#FreeThemAll4PublicHealth Day 3 of 7: Target Local MPs

27 March 2020: Day 3 of the #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth Week of Action

Step 1: Call Your MP

Call your local MP, demanding the release of all people in prison.

  • To telephone your MP’s office at the House of Commons, call 020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to their office giving your MP’s name
  • To phone your MP at their local constituency office, you can find the contact details at your local town hall or library, or it may be given in the Directory of MPs

Suggested script

“Hi, I live in (name of constituency). I am calling to demand the immediate release of all those in prison and detention centres as the only possible way to mitigate the potentially deadly impacts of COVID-19. Andrea Albutt, head of the Prison Governors Association, has already called for the release of those in custody. Please amplify this and put it into action to prevent the loss of life. People inside prisons are facing dire and inhumane conditions: no adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, removal of visitation rights, and recently a full lock-down. Removing peoples’ only support systems during a time of global crisis and not providing them with any way to protect themselves from a pandemic is state violence, and will become state-sanctioned murder unless immediate action is taken. Release them all now!”

Step 2: Tweet at your MP

  • Find your MP’s twitter handle here: https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons 
  • It’s also key that we continue to pressure and tweet at @hmpps too. HM Prison & Probation Service can not forget that we are demanding they #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth

Suggested tweets

.@[MP twitter or @hmpps] Already 27 people in the UK across 14 prisons have tested positive for Covid-19 and two have died – we need an immediate release of all people in prison to prevent further death #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth

‪@[MP twitter or @hmpps] at Rikers jail in NYC, the rate of Covid-19 infection is the highest in the world. Do you want this to be replicated in the UK? Release all people in prison to prevent similar levels of suffering. #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth https://twitter.com/mk_esq/status/1244051961118363650

@[MP Twitter] pressure @hmpps to take immediate action and release all prisoners. #SocialDistancingSavesLives and it is impossible in prisons. Why are those incarcerated being denied humanity? #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth

@[MP Twitter] 27 people across 14 different prisons in England and Wales  have tested positive for #covid19, an increase of 8 in 24 hrs. We are in a public health crisis & those behind bars should not be sacrificed #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/03/27/27-inmates-test-positive-for-covid-19-in-14-different-prisons/

.@[MP Twitter] as a member of your constituency, I am calling on you to demand that @hmpps release everybody currently incarcerated as a matter of public health. 

Step 3: Email Your MP

  • All MP email addresses should be firstname.lastname.mp@parlaiment.uk. Find your local MP, and email them using this format.
  • CC in Jo Farrar (CEOHMPPS@justice.gov.uk), who is the CEO of HMPPS, for more pressure  
  • Don’t forget to include your address and full name when emailing so that your MP can verify your constituency 

Suggested Email Script

I am writing to express my deep concern about the health and safety of people inside prisons across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous public health journals, grassroots groups, and activists have outlined why prisons are the worst possible places to prevent the spread of disease. Incarcerated people cannot self-isolate and prison regulations make hygiene and health practices next to impossible. The only reasonable comprehensive COVID-19 prison mitigation strategy is the immediate release of all people in prison and detention. 

Prisons are by their very nature unsafe and unhealthy spaces in which access to health care is severely limited. Incarcerated people face systematic medical neglect,abuse and incredible isolation everyday. This maltreatment will only increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UK prisons have alarmingly ideal conditions for the rapid spread of disease. As the Health Affairs journal states, “Prisons push people into the paths of epidemics”. Simply put, prisons cannot cope with a COVID-19 outbreak. 

There are approximately 85,000 people in prisons across the UK. Within this there is a significant population of ageing people in prison for which the virus will likely be life threatening. Any death that results from COVID-19 spreading through the prison population is state sanctioned murder. People in prison are not disposable and the ‘punishment for their crimes’ cannot be death. We are in the midst of a public health crisis, people in prison are also members of the general public and are therefore included in this public health crisis and must not be forgotten. 

The only action to be taken that will adequately stop what will become a crisis of mass-death, is the immediate release of all people incarcerated and in detention across the UK. I stand with those on the inside in solidarity and am urging you to act now to prevent unnecessary suffering and death.Their blood will be on your hands.

I demand first and foremost the release of all people in prison and detention.

Specifically:

  • We demand that all people currently on ROTL are not brought back into prison. 
  • If release of all people in prison is staggered, we demand that the first to be released be those most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as the elderly, those who are pregnant, substance users and those who have pre-existing health conditions/compromised immune systems.

Arrests and Court Rulings

  • We demand an end to incarceration as a repercussion for crimes.
  • We demand that all active trials be stopped. 
  • We demand that all courts be closed. 
  • We demand that probation appointments be halted and we demand an end to license breach recalls. 

Healthcare

  • We demand that any people in prison be taken to hospital immediately upon exhibiting symptoms.
  • We demand that free soap, masks, and necessarily hygienic facilities be available to all incarcerated people. 
  • We demand that all prison officers and medical staff be temperature checked before entering prison facilities, and both are required to wear gloves and face masks when interacting with people who are imprisoned. 
  • We demand free COVID-19 testing for anyone in prison that requests it. 
  • We demand that people in prison be given access to healthy and nutritious food  

Visitation