State Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster) joined with Silent Cry to host a demonstration at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian earlier this month to advocate for measures that would provide adequate medical care and protect incarcerated individuals from COVID-19. He was joined by fellow state Reps. LaTanya Garrett (D-Highland Park), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), and Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods).
“The people behind bars in this state belong to families that we represent,” said Jones. “Sure, some made mistakes and others find themselves incarcerated wrongfully, but they are people too. They are us. We must do much better in the areas of care and consideration as it relates to our overcrowded populations - people are dying.”
The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted prison populations. As of late November, 11,914 Michigan prisoners and 1,625 staff had contracted the virus, with those numbers continuing to rise. Seventy-seven people in prison and three employees had died. At the demonstration, Silent Cry delivered a list of demands to the correctional facility to protect the health and safety of the incarcerated community.
“The COVID crisis has highlighted the importance of quality health care more than ever, but the state continues to provide inadequate care and protective measures to incarcerated individuals,” said Shawanna Vaughn, founder of Silent Cry. “A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, and the men and women in prison are completely at the mercy of the system to protect their health and well-being. We must do better.”
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