OUR WORK DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.
We’ve been working together for over 20 years to transform Oregon’s public safety system, and in the face of the coronavirus and COVID-19, our work continues with an even greater focus on the health and safety of our communities.
We are rapidly coordinating to protect the 21,000 people who are incarcerated in Oregon’s prisons and jails, and we’re advocating for crime survivor services to support people for whom isolation at home is a safety risk.
How the coronavirus is affecting our communities.
For people who are incarcerated, the coronavirus is uniquely threatening.
Prisons and jails are designed to house large numbers of people in close quarters, which are exactly the types of setting that public health officials are warning us against.
Visitors and corrections staff also enter and leave jails and prisons everyday, putting people detained in those facilities at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. The unique risks to incarcerated people have been widely reported, including in Vox, The Marshall Project, and The New Yorker.
For some survivors, the pandemic means choosing between two unsafe options.
Isolation can come with increased risks for people who experience intimate partner violence or for children who experience abuse. Since the coronavirus escalated in Oregon, organizations that serve survivors of domestic violence are reporting higher-than-usual calls for emergency shelter.
Survivors are particularly concerned about how the public health crisis will affect access to emergency resources including shelter, restraining orders, and counseling. Here is a select list of organizations that can offer support, resources, news, and policy updates on the coronavirus and COVID-19.
OUR ADVOCACY FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY.
Reform advocates are working together to protect people who are detained in facilities that are uniquely vulnerable to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
With ACLU of Oregon, the Oregon Justice Resource Center, Sponsors, Disability Rights Oregon, and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, we are coordinating responses to raise awareness of the threats of the coronavirus and to advocate for public health measures.
In coalition, we reached out to officials in state and local agencies including the Oregon Department of Corrections, Community Corrections, Courts, Sheriffs, and Jails.
Together we advocated for procedures that would prevent the spread of the pandemic and protect people incarcerated in our state. Our focus included:
- Calling for an immediate reduction in the number of people in Oregon’s prisons and jails while maintaining public safety
- Improved basic medical care and health information in a person’s primary language to ensure understanding and reduce fear
- Special protections for vulnerable populations such as older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses, compromised immune systems, or disabilities who are at high risk of serious illness
Officials have responded to some of these requests, although much remains unchartered and unknown. We will continue to advocate and to update you here, on social media, and on our website.
Advocating the Oregon Legislature for Health and Safety.
Lawmakers have been convening in Salem to address the pandemic and hear about the health and safety priorities from public safety and other advocates. Here’s our testimony.