Ask Governor Bullock to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Montana’s Jails & Prisons

TAKE ACTION NOW

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all of our lives. As we navigate this public health crisis, we cannot forget about some of the most vulnerable people among us.

People in Montana’s prisons and jails are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19.

The three things that public health experts say will save lives – distance, adequate hygiene, and good medical care – are unavailable to incarcerated people. Without swift action, people in our prisons and jails will be serving death sentences. Moreover, research shows that jails contribute to infectious disease deaths in the broader community. In other words, if COVID-19 spreads in prisons and jails, it is more likely to spread everywhere.

It’s the state’s responsibility to make sure COVID-19 doesn’t take over prisons and jails like wildfire, putting at risk not only those incarcerated but also correctional officers and medical staff – and their families and communities when they leave work each day and return home.

To flatten the curve, ensure that our health care systems can function, and save as many lives as possible, Governor Bullock and other state and local officials must take swift action NOW. Governor Bullock issued a directive on April 1, 2020, but it is not enough. Time is running out.

Here are two things you can do NOW!

CALL AND/OR EMAIL GOVERNOR BULLOCK TO TELL HIM HE MUST DO MORE

  • Call him at 406-444-3111 or toll free at 855-318-1330. Ask him to (1) issue an executive order immediately to reduce prison and jail populations and lessen the spread of COVID-19, and (2) lead a coordinated, statewide, criminal legal system response to keep all of us safe during this crisis.
  • Email the governor today!

CALL YOUR LOCAL LEADERS

Want to take further action? Call your county commissioners, city council people, and county attorneys, and tell them to do everything they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons.

Now more than ever, we cannot forget the people incarcerated by our broken criminal justice system. This is life or death.

Message Recipients:
Governor Bullock

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Your Message

Dear Governor Bullock,

Thank you for the steps that your office has taken to protect Montanans from the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for following the advice of public health experts in some cases.

I am writing to ask you to do more. People in Montana’s jails and prisons, as well as those on probation and parole, are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. We must not overlook the people incarcerated by our criminal justice system.

Thank you for your directive on April 1st, but we need a new executive order to protect the lives of people in state custody. Without further measures, too many people will be serving death sentences.

Moreover, research shows that jails contribute to infectious disease deaths in the broader community. In other words, if COVID-19 spreads in prisons and jails, it is more likely to spread everywhere.

Public health experts are warning us about worst case scenarios in prisons and jails.

I am asking that the executive order includes the following:

- Give teeth to stem unnecessary arrests and detention to limit the number of people entering the criminal legal system in the first place;

- Reduce the number of people in prisons, jails, and other detention facilities;

- Ensure those who are incarcerated have access to necessary personal hygiene products and information;

- Take steps to maintain and make publicly available accurate data on infection and prevention in prisons and jails;

- Suspend payment of fines, fees, and costs associated with criminal charges to provide greater financial stability during uncertain times and avoid arrests and warrants for failure to pay;

- Severely curtail supervision requirements that force people to ignore social distancing and leave their homes unnecessarily, like random drug testing and in-person probation and parole check-ins.

The time to take meaningful action is running out. This is a matter of life or death.

Sincerely,

[First Name] [Last Name]
[Your Address]

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