ALLIANCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN PRISON STATEMENT ON COVID-19

As COVID-19 creates unprecedented conditions for people everywhere, but uniquely for those incarcerated, the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison is working in collaboration with higher education in prison programs across the country to support some of the most vulnerable members of our community. These efforts are part of the collective effort to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have access to quality healthcare.

As we respond to this humanitarian crisis, the Alliance is committed to advocating on behalf of people confined in jails, prisons and detention centers, as well as justice-involved people in the community, and to providing support to programs that honor the humanity of all people who are incarcerated. The Alliance expresses its strong support for initiatives that focus on the following:

  • Reducing the population of people who are in jail, prison, or detention facilities, in order to lessen crowding and thus reduce the likelihood of contagion and allow sufficient space for the quarantining of infected individuals.

     This may include:

  1. Early release of people who are over the age of 60, immune-compromised, have serious medical conditions, or are pregnant
  2. Releasing people who have anticipated release dates in the next one-two years
  3. Eliminating parole revocation for technical violations
  4. Expediting and/or conducting parole hearings remotely
  5. Expanding the use of the commutation process
  • Providing access to essential cleaning supplies and toiletries, including soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes/cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products
  • Providing reentry support services, including housing, clothing, food, and medical care, particularly for newly released people with complex medical needs. This will require a massive and multi-sector (public and private) investment of resources.
  • For those who remain in custody, increased access to telephone and, where possible, video calls, as well as the elimination of all charges for telecommunication.

Once it is medically prudent, we advocate for the immediate reinstatement of all face-to-face programming, including: visitation (family and legal); all levels of education (including higher education/postsecondary education); personal enrichment and professional development programming; and other activities that provide the human connection and intellectual engagement vital to the health and wellbeing of all people. We must not forget that one of the great elements of the current crisis is the debilitating experience of social isolation, which incarcerated people know all too well.

To learn more about the Alliance’s efforts and the rapid responses of the higher education in prison stakeholder community, visit: Alliance for Higher Education in Prison COVID-Action Page.