The Decarcerate NOW Coalition, which is made up of directly impacted community members and organizations including: Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), the Formerly Incarcerated Union of RI (FIURI), Black and Pink Providence, and Never Again Action Rhode Island, conducted a Protest/Car Rally at The Adult Correctional Institute on February 21, 2021. Speaking at the Event: Haley McKee .. Suzette Cook of DARE .. and Douglas Rogers of Black & Pink Providence. The Protest/Car Rally focused on dangerous, inhumane treatment/warehousing of prisoners, as well as a complete failure to maintain even the most basic hygiene/safety standards as dictated by Governor Raimondo’s Emergency Order. Speakers included Haley McKee, Suzette Cook of DARE, & Douglas Rogers of Black & Pink Providence.

From  A Press Release Issued February 21, 2021

Formerly incarcerated people, families of incarcerated people, and accomplices are rallying
in cars circling the ACI facilities on Sunday, 2/21, 3 PM in memory of Jose Franco, who died
in RIDOC custody last week, and in solidarity with those currently incarcerated in Rhode
Island prisons and their loved ones facing the direct impact of the devastating, deadly, and
completely preventable coronavirus outbreaks in corrections facilities throughout Rhode
Island.

This is the latest attempt in a nearly year long campaign and effort to get the administration
to take action, and is being organized by Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)’s
Behind the Walls Committee, a committee made up of formerly incarcerated people and
the loved ones of incarcerated people; Black and Pink; Formerly Incarcerated Union; Never
Again Action Rhode Island, and community members as part of the RI COVID Response:
Decarcerate NOW campaign.

The organizers have released the following statement:
“Last week, Jose Franco passed away in RIDOC custody. He was incarcerated in the
Medium Security facility and found dead in his bed, after a correctional officer (CO) failed to
make the rounds. We do not know how Jose passed, but he was young–only in his forties.
Jose passed less than a month after Timothy McQuesten, who died in the Intake facility. At
his arraignment Timothy expressed concern that he was missing his antipsychotic
medication. He was placed on crisis status, which required COs to perform more regular
checks. They failed to do this and he took his own life. A CO has since been put on paid
administrative leave. Jose is the fourth incarcerated person to die in RIDOC custody since December 2020.

Prison is a place that destroys human beings’ mental and physical health. The medical care
is substandard and the staff are abusive. Every week we hear from loved ones who are being deliberately placed in unsafe conditions, denied life sustaining medications, and
subject to physical and emotional humiliation on a daily basis. Since COVID began,
incarcerated people have not had one in-person visit with loved ones and are kept in cells
for over 23 hours a day, without access to the outdoors.

Prison is not rehabilitative and our injustice system ensures that even once people leave,
their record (and often debilitating fees and court debt) will follow them when they apply for
housing, jobs, school–making it much more likely that they’ll be reincarcerated. As Angela
Davis says: “Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.”
Join us this Sunday at 3 PM at the ACI for our weekly car rally in solidarity with our
community members inside. We’ll be honoring Jose and the many other people who have
lost their youth, health, families and lives to incarceration.”

Formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people will speak on the conditions in Rhode
Island prisons and the negligent response to the outbreak by the DOH and DOC.
To follow the campaign, you can follow the facebook page, RI COVID Response:
Decarcerate NOW and text “RESPONSE” to 94502.

Additionally, The Coalition has issued the following demands: 1. Halt arrests and grant personal recognizance to limit the number of people trapped in Intake. 2. Reduce the prison population to control the spread of disease. Restore lost good time. Expedite parole hearings and release all eligible individuals. Utilize medical parole for all terminally ill, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. Release all other eligible individuals into community confinement. 3. Recognize the ACI as a priority community for the COVID-19 vaccination, with an informed consent and opt-out process for the population. 4. Provide our loved ones with adequate PPE (masks, soap, hand sanitizer) as recommended by the CDC. 5. Regularly administer universal testing across the population, including asymptomatic people. 6. Provide transparency and accountability to incarcerated people’s families. Publicly release a quarantine plan for staff and incarcerated people who test positive, as well as a formal process for family members to report noncompliance. Report daily COVID-19 numbers on the RIDOC website and social media, with the same level of documentation and transparency as that provided around every other Rhode Island population. Prisons have always been a tool to control, terrorize, and exterminate our communities. But incarcerated people are not a disposable population. Their lives are precious. They are loved. And we will keep coming back until our heartbreak and our rage are felt by those who failed to protect them. The Coalition also demands an end to 23 Hour Lockdowns

 

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