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Jay Z and Meek Mill Show Commitment To Those Behind Bars In The Fight Against COVID-19

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Reform Alliance)

Jay Z and Meek Mill continue to send millions of surgical masks to incarcerated women and men thanks to a $10 million donation from Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.

Back in April, their prison reform organization REFORM, partnered with criminal justice advocate, Shaka Sangor, to get 100,000 masks to federal and state prisons throughout the country to address personal protective equipment shortages.

Correctional facilities continue to be hotbeds for COVID-19 due to the inability to social distance, the constant flow of people in and out of facilities, and a poor initial response by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). 

At the end of March, U.S. Attorney, William Barr, sent a memo suggesting correctional facilities  decrease populations by releasing incarcerated people and allowing them to finish out their sentences under home confinement. The CARES Act, approved by congress in March, also outlined federal support to BOP and guidelines for expanding home confinement to the elderly and those more susceptible to COVID-19.  

At the end of April only half of one percent of the Bureau of Prisons’ population had been released under CARES. The Prison Policy Initiative also sites most releases coming from local jails, and not federal or state prisons. Meanwhile, reports show thousands of inmates, officers, and medical workers have been infected, and over 140 people have died. All signs that there is still a lot to be done. 

Shout out to Meek and Hov for their continued support of those behind bars. For more on REFORM’s COVID-19 work, check out their SAFER Plan Initiative here

Also, see the many ways other grassroots organizations are working to support incarcerated people during COVID-19, below: 

Humanitarian Migrant Fund  provides emergency funds to migrant families who are currently stuck in refugee camps and shelters in extremely precarious conditions without access to medical care and basic necessities in order to survive COVID-19.

Chicago Community Bond Fund is advocating for the mass release of inmates in Cook County Jail who cannot make bond and remain detained due to a shortage of electronic monitoring devices. 

National Bail Out is bailing out Black mamas and caregiver in response to COVID-19.

The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project  supports LGBTQIA+ Immigrants impacted by detention and need assistance during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mutual Aid for People Impacted by Incarceration is providing support to those who have been incarcerated and their families, and who now have been impacted by Covid-19.

Baltimore IWOC set up the COVID-19 hotline for incarcerated and detained people to call when they have Coronavirus symptoms, when there’s an outbreak in their unit, or when they are being denied adequate medical care. 

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