Going to prison shouldn’t be a death sentence

Alaska doesn't have the death penalty, so going to prison shouldn't be a death sentence. But during COVID-19, public health experts warn that the global pandemic could take a devastating toll on the correctional system, and those who live in our jails and prisons, if government officials don't take quick action to downsize the footprint of the criminal legal system.

Alaska's prison population is aging and vulnerable, and disproportionately houses Alaska Native prisoners. And, if the uncertainty of incarceration and detention in a global pandemic wasn't concerning enough, it's been well documented that COVID-19 comes at a time when Alaska's jails and prisons are dangerously overcrowded and understaffed.

That's why we're calling on Governor Michael J. Dunleavy, DOC Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom, Alaska State Troopers, and local law enforcement entities across the state to follow the guidance of experts, and urgently take actions that reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. These actions could save lives.

It's on all of us, Alaska, to call for immediate actions that will protect some of the most vulnerable. That includes those involved with the criminal legal system because "We the People" means all of us.

Stop the spread of COVID-19: Release the vulnerable from jails and prisons, rethink how we incarcerate, and save lives.