“HEALS Act” Fails to Address the Plight of Incarcerated People, Countering Efforts to Eradicate the Virus
Washington, D.C. – In response to Senate Republicans unveiling their one trillion dollar stimulus package, the “HEALS Act” – which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said will likely represent lawmakers’ last major legislative response to the pandemic – Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
“The Senate’s latest proposal is woefully inadequate and fails to address the plight of incarcerated people, which as the nation has become all too familiar with, have borne the brunt of this crisis without the same protections the rest of us enjoy – such as basic sanitation and the ability to social distance. And as we warned, the result has been devastating and growing more dire by the second with more than 100,000 incarcerated people having been infected and at least 802 incarcerated individuals and correctional officers dead.
Not only is Senate Republicans’ negligence grotesquely inhumane to those behind bars, but it also puts the lives of others in our communities at risk, as staff spread the virus beyond these facilities’ walls and infections overwhelm hospitals. It is inconceivable how legislators imagine defeating COVID-19 in the United States without providing relief to this at-risk population.
As Congressional leaders head into negotiations, House leadership must stand firm in supporting the decarceration provisions in the HEROES Act—which includes measures to release certain incarcerated individuals from federal custody into community supervision and provides incentives to states and localities to reduce their jail and prison populations and provides critical reentry funding.”
To help incarcerated people and other vulnerable populations, we urge Congressional Leadership to incorporate recommendations from the Justice Roundtable COVID-19 priorities and DPA’s COVID-19 policy priorities in the next COVID-19 stimulus measure.