Media Contact

Sarah Armstrong,

June 1, 2020

GOLD BEACH, Ore.—The Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School and the ACLU of Oregon filed an amicus brief on Friday in Curry County Circuit Court in the case of Danny Alcazar, 28, who is seeking release from prison while his case is on appeal. Alcazar is currently being held on a parole violation in Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem.
Alcazar’s sister, Mereida Nunely, a 27-year-old mother of five who lives in Beaverton, says she is very concerned for her brother’s health and wants him to come home soon.
“Every time I talk to my brother, it breaks my heart,” Nunely said. “Each day, the number of people in prison with COVID-19 goes up. I wonder, what if I don’t get a call tomorrow? My family is ready for Danny to come home and get the care he needs. We have put this in God’s hands. We pray for change.”
In a court filing, Alcazar’s attorney argued that in addition to COVID-19 risks, Alcazar’s current sentence was imposed incorrectly when the court revoked his parole. Alcazar, who was in recovery while on parole, relapsed after two deaths of family members. His use of drugs was the reason for his parole revocation. However, instead of running time concurrently as the law requires when a person only has a single supervision violation, the judge erroneously stacked Alcazar’s time on top of each other. Alcazar, with his current good time calculation, would already have completed his time in prison if his sentence was calculated correctly. The ACLU of Oregon and the CJRC are supporting Alcazar’s argument that he should not be kept in prison while he appeals the court’s error.
“None of Danny's charges warranted a death sentence,” said Professor Aliza Kaplan, director of Lewis & Clark Law School’s Criminal Justice Reform Clinic. “Yet given COVID-19’s high fatality rate especially in congregate living environments like prisons where it is impossible for people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the virus, his life will be at risk. Now is the time to consider alternative and safe arrangements for people like Danny before it is too late.”
Beyond These Walls, an organization that supports LGBTQ people in prison, has opened a hotline for all people in prison to share their concerns and get information about COVID-19. People in prison and their loved ones can reach the Beyond These Walls COVID Hotline at 503.329.9740.
“The thing we are hearing on every single call from prison is fear,” said Biff Chaplow, executive director of Beyond These Walls. “Fear because social distancing is impossible. Fear because they do not have access to PPE. Fear because they do not have access to information like the number of cases of COVID-19 in the prison they live in.”
The ACLU of Oregon and the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic’s brief argues it is cruel and inhumane to force people to live in close proximity while public health experts, human rights experts, and government leaders worldwide call for physical distancing to prevent the life-threatening spread of COVID-19. Yet that is exactly what is happening for people living and working in prisons throughout Oregon, a disproportionate number of who are people of color. 
“There are thousands of people in Oregon’s prisons who could be safely transitioned home to shelter with their loved ones, but instead are left trapped in a COVID-19 incubator and strapped with the burden of fighting for their constitutional rights to be safe,” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director for the ACLU of Oregon. “Oregon leaders, we must act now to safely reduce the number of people in our prisons. Even if we do it one case at time, let’s start today. Let’s start with Danny.”
The ACLU of Oregon is asking members of the public to sign a petition to Oregon leaders to reduce the prison population to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is online at
The brief is online at