Last week, DRW’s AVID Program worked with other legal services organizations, community partners, and family members of incarcerated people to issue letters calling on the Washington State Department of Corrections, Governor Inslee, and local jails (Spokane County Jail & King County Jail) to take urgent and bold action to prevent the imminent spread of COVID-19 in our prisons and jails.
“Prisons and jails are particularly ill-suited to address the current pandemic. People live in close contact with one another, social distancing is difficult, hygiene services and essential medical equipment is in short supply, and medical treatment is not easily accessible. Once COVID-19 breaks out, it will likely spread quickly through our prisons and jails” (Letter to DOC Secretary Sinclair).
Last week the AVID Program also joined the WACDL/WDA COVID-19 Taskforce to issue a letter to the Washington State Supreme Court, calling for full closure of the courts in light of the risks posed to all participants in the court system, including defendants, attorneys, and court personnel. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys joined with that Taskforce and submitted an Agreed Proposed Order to the Court, which was subsequently amended and issued by the Court.
With thousands of aging and medically compromised people living in our prisons and jails, and moving through our criminal justice system, this is an urgent issue and DRW’s AVID Program has prioritized advocacy around this issue for the near future.
We will attempt to update our website as we receive additional information about the correctional response to COVID-19. Updates from DOC can be found here. Updates from the Office of the Corrections Ombuds can be found here.
March 18, 2020
- NW News Network- “It’s not just nursing homes. Threat of coronavirus outbreak looms in other communal settings”
- Oregon Public Broadcast- “Coronavirus Outbreak Threat Looms In NW Communal Settings Like Jails, Shelters”
- KUOW– “Covid Behind Bars”
- The Spokesman-Review- “Spokane County courts working to alleviate jail crowding amid COVID-19 concerns”
- The News Tribune– “Changes to Pierce County jail and courts in COVID-19 pandemic ‘evolving day by day’”
March 17, 2020
- Washington Patch.com- “Gov. Inslee Urged To Release Certain Prisoners Amid Coronavirus”
- Seattle Times– “Advocacy groups urge Inslee to release thousands from Washington prisons due to coronavirus risks”