While most Americans contend with the risks of gathering with loved ones this holiday season, the over two million people confined in America’s jails and prisons find themselves fighting for survival and to be heard by a largely unaware and preoccupied public — and unconcerned judicial system.
COVID-19 ravaging jails and prisons doesn’t just affect the people incarcerated, approximately 500,000 of whom are jailed only because they can’t afford bail; it’s catastrophic for corrections staff, including officers, chaplains, doctors, nurses and their lawyers. And this is to say nothing of the neighboring communities, which have seen their COVID-19 case and death rates increase in outsize proportions.
WNYC’s Jami Floyd hosts WNYC reporter Karen Yi and Assistant Public Defender from Prince George’s County, Claire Glenn, and Howard University Law TMCRC Teaching Fellow, Tasnim Motala, with special live performances of real sworn testimonies from Prince George’s County Jail by GRAMMY-winner Fiona Apple and award-winning poet and lawyer Dwayne Betts.
Hear how COVID is affecting more than just those behind the bars, and learn what tools you have at your disposal to make positive change happen.
For this Reporter’s Notebook, we team up with the Gasping for Justice initiative led by public defenders, organizers, civil rights lawyers, and people currently jailed in Prince George’s County, MD, to explore the current conditions inside of courts, jails, and prisons, and the indifference by people with the power to do more throughout the country.