On Thursday (March 19), Meek Mill‘s criminal justice organization REFORM Alliance unveiled the S.A.F.E.R. Plan, a new policy recommendation on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus behind bars.
Co-founded by Jay-Z, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and more last year, REFORM Alliance huddled medical experts and justice advocates to come up with a plan for how correctional facilities and supervision offices can prevent incarcerated individuals from contracting COVID-19. Nationwide prisons and jails generate a close contact environment that cannot abide by CDC- and WHO-recommended social distancing practices, so improved public health and safety measures can prohibit inmates from developing coronavirus and infecting each other and those around them, including correctional guards and staff who return to their outside communities.
The key proposals of the S.A.F.E.R. Plan are outlined in the acronym: Suspend jail for technical violations, suspend probation office visits and payment of fines; Adopt smart alternatives to incarceration; Free medical visits and treatment, hand sanitizer, soap and protective gear; Extra precautions for guards and staff; and Release elderly and vulnerable to home confinement.
“As our country takes measures to protect against coronavirus, we can’t afford to forget about the millions of people under the control of our criminal justice system,” said Jessica Jackson, REFORM Alliance’s chief advocacy officer, in a press release. “People in prisons, jails, or under community supervision are more at risk of contracting and spreading the virus, given their age, underlying health conditions, and close contact with each other. Protecting these individuals from coronavirus is not just a moral obligation, but necessary to preserve the health and safety of our communities.”
Seven organizations — including Faith and Freedom Coalition, Justice Action Network, National Urban League, R Street Institute and more — co-endorsed the S.A.F.E.R. Plan with REFORM Alliance.
“In the midst of a viral epidemic, continuing to operate in this fashion is, to put it bluntly, insane,” added Arthur Rizer, director of criminal justice & civil liberties at R Street Institute, in the release. “Yet far too many local and state courts, jails, prisons, and probation and parole offices continue to proceed as if nothing has changed — even as schools, bars, restaurants, gyms and businesses shutter because of COVID-19. Our nationwide addiction to incarceration seems unbreakable, even when it puts us at risk of disease.”
REFORM Alliance continues the fight against the coronavirus pandemic further failing America’s prison system with an online petition that urges public officials to protect at-risk incarcerated individuals. “Of the 2.3 million incarcerated people in the U.S., roughly 165,000 are over the age of 55. Compared to the general population, people in jail and prison are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions,” the petition page reads.
Furthermore, the criminal justice initiative launched a digital guide for activists to call their local governors and ask them to adopt the S.A.F.E.R. Plan.