On the line

The Fight For Our Loved Ones Inside

Led by women with incarcerated loved ones — the mothers, daughters, partners, sisters of people inside prisons, jails, and detention centers — Lives On The Line is an urgent fight to bring our loved ones home.

While COVID-19 spreads rapidly throughout our country, our incarcerated loved ones face imminent danger to their lives due to the inhumane conditions they face inside. This is life or death for us — our loved ones’ lives are on the line.

COVID-19 Advocacy Platform from Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones

We are in a moment of global crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus spreads rapidly throughout the country, our incarcerated loved ones face imminent danger to their lives due to the inhumane conditions that heighten their risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. These dire conditions did not begin with, nor will they end with COVID-19. This pandemic magnifies the devastation of the carceral system and sheds light on how prisons, jails, and detention centers have never kept our communities safe and well.

To protect the lives of our loved ones inside, join us in advocating for our demands.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Demand #1: We demand prison, jail, and detention center closures.

Our loved ones are currently held in unsafe conditions, where the spread of COVID-19 is dangerous and deadly. The safest and most humane way to prevent devastation is to close prisons, jails, and detention centers. We demand the immediate release of all incarcerated people starting with those who are most at risk to the impacts of COVID-19, those who become ill, and those who have caregiver responsibilities.

  • Grant compassionate release, clemency (including commutations and pardons), early release, release on own recognizance, and pretrial release, of all incarcerated loved ones, starting with:
    • All people who are high risk according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 standards, including but not limited to, people 60 years and older, pregnant people, immunocompromised people, and people with underlying medical conditions, including but not limited to people with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), asthma, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension;
    • All people who are detained pretrial and are eligible for release on money bail or immigration bond but cannot afford to pay for their release;
    • All people who are incarcerated due to a technical violation of probation or parole;
    • All people who have scheduled release dates in the next two years (through July 1, 2022);
    • All people who are held in immigration detention; and
    • All people who are the primary or sole caregiver for loved ones at risk of severe impacts of COVID-19.
  • Pass a moratorium on all new arrests, enforcement operations, transfers between agencies and contractors, and bookings into facilities. 
  • Close down carceral facilities permanently.

Demand #2: We demand the safe return of our loved ones. 

As women with incarcerated loved ones, we are the de facto reentry system in the country and during these financially unstable times, we are struggling to stay afloat. As our loved ones are released to our homes and communities, we demand increased access to essential services and financial resources that support our ability to properly welcome our loved ones home and ensure their safe and healthy return.

  • Provide access for formerly incarcerated individuals who are houseless to any new and ongoing emergency federal, state, and/or local housing for COVID-19 relief that allow people to safely “shelter in place.”

  • Provide stipends to women with incarcerated loved ones and family members who house their loved ones upon release.

  • Allocate rent stipends to individuals upon release so that people can secure their own housing.

  • Eliminate barriers that formerly incarcerated individuals face when accessing affordable housing, including moving in with their loved ones.

  • Release all individuals during daylight hours and provide them with free transportation home that meets social distancing guidelines.

  • Release individuals with at least a one month supply of medication and prescriptions.

  • Release individuals who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to hospitals or COVID-19 treatment centers, and provide testing.

  • Provide access to federal and state safety net programs regardless of conviction history and immigration status including but not limited to Unemployment Insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and State Disability Insurance.

  • Require that there be no waiting period for people who are starting a new job upon release to gain access to medical benefits, paid sick time, and paid family leave, regardless of conviction history and immigration status.

  • End the practice of electronic monitoring and other restrictive conditions of release.

  • Extend Paid Family Leave to those supporting the reentry of a loved one.

  • End court fees, money bail, immigration bonds, restitution fees and all other financial costs that result from contact with the legal system.

Given the urgency of this crisis and the number of people who are inside, these are our demands until all of our loved ones are free.

Demand #3: We demand all possible measures be taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of our incarcerated loved ones who remain inside.

Our loved ones are dying inside because of COVID-19. They do not have access to cleaning supplies or medical care, are put into solitary confinement, on lockdown, or are housed in dormitory-style rooms with dozens of people, instead of implementing social distancing. We demand that our loved ones are given ample free access to quality medical care and sanitation supplies that meet CDC standards.

  • Provide ample free commissary items that are basic necessities, including but not limited to soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, dental care, surface cleaners, and bathroom cleaners that meet CDC standards.

  • Provide free and regular access to medical care professionals and COVID-19 testing for individuals who are exhibiting symptoms.

  • Eliminate all medical copays.
  • Provide access to programming and/or therapeutic services to maintain and support mental and emotional well-being.
  • Implement social distancing inside:
    • Social distancing while incarcerated must maintain human rights standards and allow for outdoor recreational time, free and regular access to communication with loved ones outside, and regular healthy meals.
    • Any contact with correctional officers and facility staff must be minimal and maintain six-feet of distance between all people.
    • Solitary confinement and lockdown procedures must not be used in place of social distancing. 
  • Stop the exploitation of incarcerated people’s labor. This includes the forced production of materials and supplies to fight COVID-19 that incarcerated people don’t have access to.

Demand #4: We demand access to our incarcerated loved ones.

Our connection to our loved ones is being severed under COVID-19. In conditions where the amount of communication with our loved ones is already extremely limited, our visits have been canceled and the majority of our phone calls remain time-restricted. We don’t have up-to-date or consistent information about the health of our loved ones or the spread of COVID-19 inside. We demand unlimited free access to communication with our loved ones and regular updates on their health and the wellbeing of those they are incarcerated with. 

  • Provide daily communication (via email, phone, or mail) to family members from the facility their loved one is held in. This communication must be provided in multiple languages.

  • Ensure free phone calls and video visits that extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Deliver mail, including packages, on time to our incarcerated loved ones. Ensure mail from our incarcerated loved ones to us is not delayed.

  • Consider visiting as an essential activity in areas where “shelter in place” or “stay at home” measures are enacted. In places where it’s not safe to do socially distant visits, facilities must provide access to glass visitation and video visitation free of charge.
  • Provide immediate notification to their designated emergency contacts via phone and email if an incarcerated person isn’t feeling well, experiences a health emergency, or goes to the hospital.
  • Ensure a person’s emergency contact is up-to-date and that the incarcerated person has the correct forms in place to provide notification to their loved ones in the case of a medical emergency.

Demand #5: We demand that our loved ones’ incarceration not be extended due to COVID-19. 

Our loved ones no longer have access to participate in educational, mental health, and other programs that both facilitate wellbeing and earn our loved ones credits toward release. Furthermore, parole hearings have been delayed and canceled. We no longer have the option to attend our loved ones’ court dates, even though they are happening via video. Judges across the nation are passing emergency measures that ultimately extend the amount of time a person is incarcerated before going to trial. As a result, our loved ones will be incarcerated longer. We demand that all measures be taken to ensure that COVID-19 does not increase the time that any person spends incarcerated.

  • Provide continued and private access to attorneys.

  • Provide an option for incarcerated loved ones to have their parole, court, detention, and bail hearings on-schedule virtually or to reschedule it for a later date in-person: 

    • If a person chooses to move forward with their scheduled hearing virtually, women with incarcerated loved ones and family members who would have had access to a hearing in-person must be provided with an opportunity to attend and give testimony virtually.

    • Simultaneous interpretation must be offered.

    • If a person chooses to reschedule their hearing for a later date in-person, it must be scheduled as soon as possible once it is safe to meet in-person again.

  • Provide continued access to earn credits and degrees in alternative formats. When that is not possible, incarcerated people must be provided with the credits that would have been earned had the credit-earning opportunity not been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19.

  • Ensure credits and good time earned does not get taken away due to an individual seeking treatment and/or needing to be transferred to a facility to receive medical treatment.

Demand #6: We demand access to healing and wellness.

As women with incarcerated loved ones, we face acute isolation that results in severe mental and physical health consequences. With access to our loved ones severely limited in the COVID-19 crisis, our isolation is further compounded. We ask that society acknowledge and respond to the unique experiences that women with incarcerated loved ones have during this global pandemic. We demand resources for our own healing and wellness as we advocate for ourselves and our loved ones inside. 
  • Provide free and regular virtual mental health care to all people who have incarcerated loved ones.
  • Provide stipends to women with incarcerated loved ones for healing circles, support groups, and other wellness practices.