On March 13, 2010, the Southern Center for Human Rights sent a public letter to the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (Parole Board) regarding the anticipated spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to people incarcerated in Georgia prisons. Given the mortality rate associated with the virus, SCHR is deeply concerned about the virus’s spread to at-risk people, particularly the elderly, within the closed confines of a prison setting.
Requests to GDC
We ask the GDC to implement a number of measures to reduce virus transmission and potential loss of life, including, but not limited to the following:
- Comply with CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, and NCCHC Guidelines;
- Eliminate co-pays;
- Ensure access to soap, tissue, cleaning/sanitizing products, and clean laundry:
- Ensure transparency in communications with family members and the public;
- Implement medical quarantine where appropriate;
- Implement an emergency staffing plan;
- Create a list of people to prioritize for possible release.
Requests to Parole Board
We ask the Parole Board to take immediate steps to plan for ways to reduce the prison population by some significant percentage – e.g. by 5% or 10% – if required by the circumstances of the pandemic. Specifically, we ask the Parole Board to review, on an expedited basis, the cases of elderly and infirm prisoners, in order to identify who among them could be released, consistent with public safety. In making this request, we note that the Georgia Constitution gives the Parole Board the authority to “parole any person who is age 62 or older.”2020.03.13-Letter-to-GDC-and-GBPP