Should “criminals” be left in prison to die of Covid-19? Some say yes

By Sandy . . . “Prisoner release schemes,” pronounces the heading of a piece by Stacy Washington in a Project 21 publication, “are total nonsense.”

In this opinion she is joined by many state officials who, in spite of dire health warnings from the medical community, severely limit those eligible for early release or compassionate release to escape the almost certain ravages of Covid-19 as it rips through jails and prisons. Those with sexual offense convictions are almost universally the first to be excluded, based on the label alone. Texas governor Greg Abbott is currently embroiled in a battle with the federal courts over his refusal to release low-risk, pre-trial detainees. These are, primarily, folk who have not been convicted of the crime for which they are incarcerated but cannot afford the bail to be released.

Ms. Washington, in her tirade against the release of any prisoner during this health crisis, oversimplifies her arguments to the point of the ridiculous.

We can’t let them out, she says. They are in jail or prison because they couldn’t follow society’s rules. What makes us think they will follow rules about staying at home and social distancing?

Ms. Washington, we aren’t suggesting the doors be thrown open and no monitoring be in place. Any number of legal restraints, including home confinement and electronic monitoring, are available to the justice system in cases where there is legitimate need.

Playing the emotion card and exhibiting “us versus them” mentality, she uses the term “criminals” repeatedly: “. . . doing the unthinkable: freeing criminals.” “. . . making the quarantine worse by releasing criminals back into our midst.” “Americans [would] then have to take in their criminal relatives on top of having reduced income. . .” “What is in the best interest of criminals is to remain in prison. . .”

Many of the individuals being released are awaiting trial. Has the presumption of innocence until a conviction is rendered fallen by the wayside? Are people correctly termed “criminals” before they have a criminal conviction? And even though the legal justice system doesn’t like to admit it, some of those behind bars are innocent, no more deserving of being labeled a criminal than, presumably, Ms. Washington.

She cites the case of R. Kelly, a singer, delighting in the court’s refusal to release him on bond due to Covid-19. Kelly is awaiting trial. Although he has previous convictions, he has not been convicted of the charges for which he is currently being held, which is also the case of many others who are refused release.

She further states of Kelly that, in being denied release, he is also “. . . rightly denied the opportunity to reoffend.”

Is Ms. Washington physic? Does she know that, on release, he will reoffend? Or is she making a broad and unwarranted assumption?

Domestic violence reports are up from 10% to 30%, states Ms. Washington.

This was noted early on in this crisis, before incarcerated persons were being released. This is the result of fear for income and for health situations, of tensions raised by children being underfoot all day rather than at school, and of people being together continually who probably shouldn’t be together at all. Ms. Washington is being ingenuous if not downright deceptive in her inferences, made with no hint of proof, that it is the result of early and compassionate releases from jails and prisons.

Prisons can be made safe, she argues. Just devise schedules and put in more hand sanitizer, and those in prison will be as safe from the disease as those on the outside.

If it were that simple, Ms. Washington, would it not have been done? If it were that simple, would an Ohio prison, possibly the only one in the nation to test everyone, have found that 73% of their inmate population and over 100 staff members have the Coronavirus? Would both the medical director and the head warden at a Louisiana prison have died from the virus?

Were her ill-chosen and unsupported reasons not sufficient to make clear her opinion on the topic of doing what every health official dealing with Covid-19 suggests, Ms. Washington spells it out for us: “So which prisoners if any should be permitted release? None.”

Ms. Washington, this is the kindest I can be to you: If you ever find yourself in a position where your life is at serious risk, and there is something that can be done to help ameliorate that risk, I hope whoever is tasked with deciding whether to do it or not has more humanity and compassion in his or her heart than you.

Help us reach more people by Sharing or Liking this post.

Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #71460 Reply
      Avatar
      linda shedlock

      Is this woman out of her mind ! Murderers serve there time and get released . Who is to say they will or not reoffend . Ridiculous ! Sick is sick and keeping people together is causing more to become sick ! What is wrong with this woman ?

    • #71473 Reply
      Avatar
      Sahsa

      The radio stations in New York and around the cities are no different when it comes to this topic. I have heard several off the cuff comments about forcing inmates to take experimental drugs to find the cure, or let them rot.
      There were days on the radio where the host would rant and rave about people in jail during the virus and how they were better off in jail.(We know that this is not true and the worst place to get sick is in a prison).
      I recently heard that in one county 30% of the inmates count for the county’s pandemic. In the upstate some inmates were released to a hotel in order to stem the pandemic and others met the factors to be considered health risk and the mayor and town had a fit. It made no difference if they were being monitored and placed at a residential area. They wanted those inmates out. It was worse when they found out some were registered persons.
      Another station in NYC gripes almost daily in regards to prison inmates to the point that its soooo sickening. They portray every inmate, person in detention and other places as the only thing they think about is crime and they are not humans and deserve to die.
      The system is broken and broke(no money now) and it is time to rethink many things regarding criminal justice and the system itself. The Governor and Mayor talks a good game but, to me, nothing will change.

    • #71472 Reply
      Avatar
      CJB

      Good Day

      So Ms. Washington and The Great Governor of Texas can Predict The Future? Hmmmmmm…..Well, if that is the Case, I have a couple Millions of Dollars to Give to you and we shall invest it in the Market and we shall make lots of money!
      -YEA, Right, Mister and Misses!…

      SORNA changed a Legal System that WAS based on “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” and transformed it into a system of “Reasonable Suspicion.” ANY INDIVIDUAL IS CAPABLE OF HARMING SOMEONE ELSE AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE. NO Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Politician, Social Worker, Judge, Justice Official or Corrupt Law Enforcement Officer can predict the future!

      Stay Safe and Healthy!

    • #71470 Reply
      Avatar
      Raye

      Social distancing is impossible in prison. In most prisons, the incarcerated are not given hand sanitizer because of the alcohol content. The ability to shower at will is rare. The availability of effective cleaning products is very slim. With nearly every state having prisons at or over capacity, the facilities are ripe for falling victim to the virus; not only for the incarcerated but also for the staff who will then take it to their families and others. Ms. Washington is blindly ignorant.

    • #71479 Reply
      Avatar
      David V C

      Oh brother!!
      So, accordingly some believe that death by ‘Lethal Infection’ is warranted even when there is a release date, which may be only a couple years.
      Some people are so super self-righteous until they or someone in their own family goes into an institution and THEN its “Whoa, now wait a minute…let’s talk about this!”
      People like that disgust me!!
      If this were a perfect world, their would be no crime, but this is not a perfect world and by inmates dying it won’t make it perfect or even near perfect ever!
      Thankfully, God is much more compassionate and forgiving than people like this, or we would all be dead!

      People need to be humbled, and find out that they are not near righteous enough on their best day to condemn others to death.

    • #71491 Reply
      Avatar
      Shawn

      The only thing we can do is pray for Ms Washington and hope none of her love ones end up on this registry or she becomes the condemned herself..

    • #71531 Reply
      Avatar
      Galyn Nea

      First of all there’s no way to do social distancing in prison. They’re just now giving mask to inmates which is somewhat a strange comfort. Now that the prisons are locked down they only people going in are the officers. They should be the ones wearing the mask and most do around their chin so I’m told. If you are unlucky enough to be sentenced to prison because of some thing a mistake that you’ve made. Well, you are unfortunate if your neighbor in prison or cell mate gets the COVID-19 virus. This is a virus like none other that can spread like wildfire. For some it does mean death. I am of the mindset if you do the crime then you have to do the time. But I do feel compassion for those who are doing their time and end up dead from COVID-19

    • #71542 Reply
      Avatar
      Michael Kuehl

      Men and women convicted of sex offenses are the “first to be excluded” -albeit “sex offenders” include not only violent rapists, nearly all of them with histories of violence and criminality, sexual and non-sexual, who adduct, enslave, torture, brutalize, terrorize, and often murder their victims but also 19- and 20-year-old males, overwhelmingly first-offenders with no histories of violence or prior criminality, who have sex with their 14- and15-year-old girlfriends, and adult women who have sex with young men under age 16 or even 18, first-offenders convicted of nonviolent and victimless and usually mala prohibita “crimes.’ I’m all but certain that not one woman teacher who was sentenced to months in jail or years or even decades in prison has re-offended or will re-offend by having sex with another young man under statutory age. And I’m sure that none of them have re-offended or will re-offend by committing aggravated assaults, muggings, armed robbery, kidnapping, home invasions, murders, etc.

    • #71545 Reply
      Avatar
      Daniel

      Funny this woman predicts that a former sex offender will go out and reoffend, just last week I read how someone was released on a drug possession charge awaiting trial. Upon his release not only did he return to selling drugs, he went out and killed someone. Hes back in jail, this guy also had prior convictions. Yet they want to hold people with most likely no prior sex offences. This Ms Washington needs to do her homework.

    • #71547 Reply
      Avatar
      Perry

      I liked what David had to say about this. I agree with him too. When this ‘Lifeform’, passing as a Human Adult Female has a family member or someone very close to her accused of a Sex Crime and Sentenced to Incarceration DURING the Pandemic, She’ll Cry Out for sure. I was released from a State Institution just over six months ago, and had I still been in there, I’d have surely been Dead. I hear from many people who have loved ones still at that same Institution, that there are a good number of Men DYING now. Several Staff members too, have fallen Ill, and at least three that I know of, have died from C.O.V.I.D.-19, all three being Correctional Officers! I get the distinct impression; that she, is like one of the Pharisees of Old. Talk a Good Game, but when having to put her money where her mouth is, but shouldn’t be, she lacks the capacity or definition of ‘Human Being’ Period.
      Of the many Expletives I’d like to call this and other People like her, I can use absolutely none of them. What I will instead say is what a very Famous Man once said: “He who is without Sin among you, let him cast the first stone!”
      I’m writing a Science Fiction Book about a man accused of, and convicted on a Sex Crime, that gets selected as a Human Guinea Pig for Nanotechnology. He ends up becoming Superhuman because a Zealot-just like that Washington Lifeform-tries to take him out and fails! If my book sells a lot, as I pray it does, then I’m going to get myself as Insulated from people like her as much as humanly possible. She doesn’t know the future any more than anyone else anyway. She uses Fearmongering just like The Media and many Legislators-Corrupt and Not, Federal and State-to make herself one of the most heard Pharisees of all time.
      Done.

    • #71551 Reply
      Avatar
      JJJJ

      Please join me in sending emails, letters, tweet-replies etc to influential people.

      Email to SAMANTHA J. GROSS Miami Herald on 4/25/2020
      Hello:
      Every time inmates are released for compassionate reasons, those who have formerly committed sex crimes are excepted from our compassion.
      In fact, though, those criminals who have committed sex crimes are statistically the least likely to reoffend! (As they age, their likelihood of reoffense all but disappears.) This is not widely known to the public, but has consistently been shown to be true in numerous, state, university and federal studies done of recidivism.
      When we refuse to extend compassion to those prisoners who have the best chance at reform, we turn our backs on science, reason, justice and mercy. Instead, we succumb to hate and fear.
      Keeping former sex offenders locked up during this global pandemic is akin to a genocide!

    • #71597 Reply
      Avatar
      NoSoyNadie

      She sounds like so many of the other hypocrites like the Governor of Alabama who said he’d depend on the data to reopen his state. But does he rely on data for sex offenders in his state? I think we all know the answer to that.

    • #71669 Reply
      Avatar
      d

      “No person shall . . . be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . . “

    • #71758 Reply
      Avatar
      Adam S.

      While many of this woman’s assertion are ludicrous, those convicted to serve time should simply serve their time.

    • #72575 Reply
      Avatar
      w

      The presumption of innocence was long eradicated when “probable cause” and “public safety” happened and Megan, Adam, and Marsy’s laws were passed. Much to the benefit of prosecutors, police, probation officers, and district attorneys.

Viewing 14 reply threads
Reply To: Should “criminals” be left in prison to die of Covid-19? Some say yes
We welcome a lively discussion with all view points provided that they stay on topic - keeping in mind...

  • *You must be 18 or older to comment.
  • *You must check the "I am not a robot" box and follow the recaptcha instructions.
  • *Your submission must be approved by a NARSOL moderator.
  • *Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  • *Comments arguing about political or religious preferences will be deleted.
  • *Excessively long replies will be rejected, without explanation.
  • *Be polite and courteous. This is a public forum.
  • *Do not post in ALL CAPS.
  • *Stay on topic.
  • *Do not post contact information for yourself or another person.
  • *Please enter a name that does not contain links to other websites.

  • *DO NOT POST LINKS TO OTHER WEBSITES
Your information:





<a href="" title="" rel="" target=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <pre class=""> <em> <strong> <del datetime="" cite=""> <ins datetime="" cite=""> <ul> <ol start=""> <li> <img src="" border="" alt="" height="" width="">