2 April 2020: Day 6 of the #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth Week of Action
Ministry of Justice: MojGOVUK
Today marks the final day of our week of action to #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth in solidarity with all people inside prisons. As predicted, Covid-19 has spread like wildfire inside prisons in the UK over the past week, as the number of deaths jumped to three and the number of confirmed cases more than tripled, although actual numbers are surely much higher. Although this week of action is coming to an end, our work is not over and instead we will fight onwards. We refuse to allow this state violence to continue and we will not stop fighting until all are free.
We reaffirm that the only effective way to prevent further deaths in prison from Covid-19 is to release all people in prison. There are many harm reduction steps which must be taken while a release is orchestrated, to ensure that people have adequate hygiene supplies and are brought to hospital upon showing symptoms, and that prison guards are temperature checked before entering the prison so as not to spread the virus. Visitation rights must be restored to all people inside as long as prison guards are still entering the prison. These measures are necessary, but if they are not followed by an immediate release of all people in prison then more avoidable deaths will continue. There is no way to fully prevent Covid-19 spreading in prisons while keeping the prisons open. The only way to do this is to close the site of virus spread – the prisons – and release all those inside.
We reject any notion that only some people should be released as this can play into harmful narratives which pit marginalized people against other marginalized people. Ideas of “risk assessment” entrench racist hierarchies which tie whiteness to vulnerability – an abject lie that fuels white supremacy. All people in prison are under state attack, and all deserve freedom. The world we fight for rejects all carceral systems of prison and detention, and is hinged upon a fierce solidarity with everyone inside prison. Your struggles, dreams and lives matter to us and our liberation remains tied up with yours.
Step 1: Call
- Parliamentary: 020 7219 7168
- Constituency: 01793 533393
- Lord Chancellor’s Private Office: 020 3334 3555
“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 public health crisis. Whilst the release of thirty five pregnant people is a start, it is not sufficient to address this crisis, and plans must be made to release the 85 000 other people incarcerated in the UK. People inside prisons are facing dire and inhumane conditions – no adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, removal of visitation rights, and in now full lock-downs. 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 & social media target
@RobertBuckland a week has passed since we began our week of action to #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth & your inaction is horrifying – 3 people in prisons have already died from #covid19 & infection rates have tripled but people remain caged & vulnerable to infection & death
@RobertBuckland why don’t you follow the lead of countries around the world including Canada, the USA, Iran, Bahrain & Indonesia that are saving lives by releasing people in prison? Why must you let people die? #Covid19 is a public health emergency and your inaction is sickening
@RobertBuckland for you to disregard the lives of people in prison in such a callous manner is deeply disturbing – people can’t social distance & aren’t being provided with enough hygiene supplies – the only way to prevent further death is full release #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth
@RobertBuckland Andrea Albutt, head of the Prison Governors Association, has already called for the release of those in custody. It is time to act on this demand and #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth NOW! Any further delay will be a further loss of life. No more death in prison!
Alternative Step 2: Facebook and Instagram
If you feel comfortable you can private message Robert Buckland on Facebook and Instagram.
“For more than a week now we have been calling for the release of all people in prison as the only possible public health response to covid-19. Your inaction is frankly horrifying. Three people have already died from covid-19 in prison and infection rates have tripled, and yet people remain locked in cages and vulnerable to infection and death. Release them all NOW!”
Step 3: Email
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website contact form: https://www.robertbuckland.co.uk/contact
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. ETC.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- We demand that visitation remains available as long as prison officers and prison staff are still entering the establishment.
- We demand that phone and video communication services are provided without cost to all people in prison.
- We demand that hygiene kits be available in visitation areas.