SALEM--The first confirmed death in an Oregon prison from COVID-19 was reported today by the Oregon Department of Corrections.
Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, had the following comment:
"We extend our sincere condolences to the family of the person who passed away in the state of Oregon's custody today. Unfortunately, this loss of life was entirely predictable. How many deaths will occur before more serious steps are taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon's prisons?
"Incarceration should not be a death sentence. COVID-19 is quickly spreading among people in prison and prison workers in Oregon. If these outbreaks continue to grow, people will continue to get sick and more people will die.
"Our public safety system is skilled and experienced at safely transitioning people out of prison. We need to quickly activate these processes to reduce the risks to the lives and health of Oregonians. Inaction unfairly impacts people of color, who are both overrepresented in Oregon prisons and disproportionately contracting and dying from COVID-19 in our state."
The ACLU of Oregon is asking the public to sign a petition to Oregon leaders to reduce prison use to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A March 16 letter to the Oregon Department of Corrections from the ACLU of Oregon and partners is online.
A March 19 letter to Governor Brown from the ACLU of Oregon and partners is online.
A model from the ACLU and academic research partners that shows COVID-19 could claim the lives of approximately 100,000 more people than current projections stipulate if jail populations are not dramatically and immediately reduced is online.