Statement from President Pro Tem Brown on COVID-19 Infections Among Imprisoned Ohioans
[COLUMBUS, OH] The following statement can be attributed in
full, or in part, to Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown:
"It is a matter of basic human rights that we uphold the
welfare of incarcerated people. No matter why a resident is behind bars,
governments cannot escape the responsibility that their custodial role confers
deaths and infections caused by COVID-19 in the Marion and Pickaway
Correctional Institutions have catapulted Marion and Pickaway Counties to the
first and fourth highest counties in the nation in per-capita infection rate.
However, much of what sets them apart is likely just the extent of testing
made available. We can only assume that viral spread in other facilities is
worse than we know.
"It bears repeating that due to this country’s history of racist
incarceration practices, the consequences of high infection rates inside
Ohio’s jails, prisons, and ICE detention facilities will disproportionately
harm African Americans, Latinx people, and immigrants.
"COVID-19 has already catalyzed action at all levels of government, but
we must do more to release as many people as possible, including all people
detained on civil immigration charges, many of whom are our Columbus
residents. For those still incarcerated, the government is their custodian
and must ensure proper social distancing, free and accessible hygiene
supplies, and robust medical care.
"Maintaining incarcerated populations as high as they are and failing to
infuse needed resources into the system will imperil incarcerated people,
corrections officers, their families, and their broader communities."