More than six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, almost 32,000 people—mostly Black people— remain confined in state prisons across North Carolina in conditions that increasingly constitute a humanitarian crisis. Since May, almost all people in prison have been severely limited in their movements due to Covid-19—most are restricted from doing work-release and no incarcerated person is allowed visitors. Despite these severe restrictions and hardships, prison officials have failed to contain the rampant spread of the virus in many prisons. Up-to-date NCDPS actions and daily prison testing results can be found here.
The Prison Solidarity Project seeks to amplify the voices of incarcerated people by highlighting their stories to provide awareness about prison conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project seeks to uplift the stories of people currently incarcerated and bring attention to the needs surrounding their personal health, safety, and well-being as the pandemic continues. The letters that are shared by the project, which sometimes include raw language, represent the real perspectives and feelings of the letter writers. Alliance members mailed more than 1,000 personal letters of support and solidarity to individuals in prison. Each personal letter was attached to a letter of from the NC Second Chance Alliance’s membership as well as a survey they could use to publicly share their experiences in prison with Covid-19.
Many of these letters bring a greater sense of urgency to our call for Governor Roy Cooper and Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks to facilitate the immediate release of as many individuals as necessary to maximize the safety from Covid-19 of people who must enter and remain in prison during Covid-19. At the very least, each person in prison–including incarcerated people, prison staff, and vendors– should be adequately social distanced and have regular access to testing and personal protective equipment and sanitary products.