Our Response to COVID-19
We have been tracking changes within CDCR policy very closely and are sharing updates and resources as we receive them. To stay updated with the most current changes to their policies and procedures, please refer to the following page: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/
Tragically, people across multiple California prisons have fallen ill to Covid-19 and passed away. We hold them in our hearts and honor their lives through our work to shed light on conditions inside and raise the urgent need for mass releases, and ultimately, the end of mass incarceration and closure of these deadly facilities.
In response to Governor Newsom and CDCR’s announcement to release 8,000 people by the end of August, our team created a collective statement to express our concerns with these actions. To read the full statement, click HERE.
Initiate Justice has also signed onto many demand letters sent to Governor Newsom, as well as other leaders’ offices in California.
To see a full list of all demand letters we have signed onto:
We’ve graded CDCR on their response to COVID-19.
and the results aren’t pretty.
When the COVID-19 crisis began, Initiate Justice members in prisons across California, and their loved ones, began reporting unsanitary and dangerous conditions to us, including a lack of medical and mental healthcare, lack of hygiene and disinfectant supplies, careless transfers of people between facilities spreading the virus, and inadequate access to communication with loved ones.
Initiate Justice set out to understand how each CDCR facility was responding to COVID-19. We received 545 responses from people with loved ones across every CDCR facility, and created our CDCR Report Card based on the results. Incarcerated individuals are among the most vulnerable people to the virus, and as our survey results show, incarcerated people’s basic needs and safety during this crisis were not met. Institutional mismanagement and a failure to respond by CDCR and our elected officials led to COVID-19 spreading like wildfire inside CA prisons.
On May 30th 2020, CDCR transferred 121 incarcerated individuals from California Institution for Men prison – a known hot spot for COVID-19 at the time – to San Quentin State Prison (SQSP). This led to a growing outbreak at San Quentin, which prior to the transfer had 0 COVID-19 cases. Today, over 2,000 incarcerated people have tested positive at SQSP and at least 12 people have died by COVID-19.
The #StopSanQuentinOutbreak campaign is an effort led by currently and formerly incarcerated folks, loved ones with direct connections to SQSP, and community organizers to raise awareness about the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is supported by social justice organizations including Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Re:Store Justice, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and more. Together, we demand that CDCR & Governor Newsom grant wide-scale releases now to stop the spread of COVID-19 across ALL California prisons.
To take action, check out the #StopSanQuentinOutbreak full list of demands HERE.
You can also follow this Social Media Toolkit to help us raise awareness!