The masks are being sent to New York’s Rikers Island, Mississippi State Penitentiary, Tennessee Department of Corrections and prisons in South Carolina.
They’re sending the masks for use by inmates, correctional officers and medical professionals.
“COVID-19 spreads most quickly in crowded and closed environments, and our jails and prisons are at high risk for an outbreak,” said The Reform Alliance in a statement. “This is a huge threat to public health.”
“Right now, hardly any government officials have a plan to address this crisis, reform does,” the statement continued. “We have worked with experts and advocates from across the political aisle to develop a set of common-sense recommendations that would make us all SAFER.”
Reform Alliance CEO Van Jones also issued a statement and explained the potential danger of inmates and prison workers not being given things to help protect them from the virus.
In fact, it’s something the inmates at Rikers Island have already complained about, including concerns about their difficulty in getting access to things like soap and water.
“Governors and people who run jails and prisons in this country need to take the pandemic in Rikers as a warning,” said Jones in the statement. “We’re in danger of seeing prisons coast-to-coast turn into morgues. It is important to get medical supplies in, and it is equally important to get more human beings out. Reform Alliance is working on both.”
According to ABC News, the first person to be infected with the virus at Rikers Island was a staff person. Three days after that March 15 discovery an inmate was found to be infected.
On March 27, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the release of 1,100 inmates who are behind bars on parole violation to help slow the virus’ spread.
“We’re releasing people who are in jails because they violated parole for non-serious reasons,” he told MSNBC that same day.
Just in March, Jay-Z and Yo Gotti helped inmates at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi, file a lawsuit against the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for deplorable conditions.