The prison population is one of society's vulnerable communities.
The following is a statement from Prison Fellowship's President and CEO James J. Ackerman on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on men and women behind bars.
Prison Fellowship® has been serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families for more than 40 years. Our vision is to see all those affected by crime and incarceration restored to God, to their families, and to their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of men and women behind bars, resulting in over 300,000 documented cases in prisons and long-term lockdowns that limit access to visitation and programming.
We applaud the quick development of life-saving vaccines that have been made ready for distribution across our nation. As states consider how best to structure vaccine distribution, we call on policymakers to remember those who live and work in prison and jails (Hebrews 13:3). Prison and jail environments are often difficult to keep sanitary, face constant entry and exit of staff and incarcerated individuals, and have limited resources for preventative measures and health care. As a result, correctional facilities have been the location of several documented hot spots of COVID-19 throughout recent months.
FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS, REMEMBER YOUR PRISONERS
Men and women who live or work in prisons and jails are created by God and are worthy of dignity and care (Genesis 1:26-27). We must continue to act for their protection and health. To this end we urge state policymakers and officials to provide those who live and work behind bars access to vaccines with the same priority as similarly vulnerable community members.
The above recommendations will not be possible or scalable without state and federal government assistance. We urge federal and state governments to include sufficient funding for implementation of these recommendations in any forthcoming aid packages.
James J. Ackerman,
President and CEO of Prison Fellowship