Prisons are now more dangerous than ever, with little to no ways to protect those incarcerated from COVID-19. We are asking our friends and supporters to get in touch with your District Attorney, via email, phone, and social media and demand the release of caged people during this time, and to dramatically reduce the number of people facing incarceration. Here is a sample script you can use when contacting your local District Attorney.
Dear District Attorney [insert name here],
The emerging data is revealing that unless drastic action is taken immediately to get vulnerable people out of jails, hundreds—possibly thousands—of these individuals will suffer severe illnesses and death in North Carolina jails over the coming months.
As a district attorney, you have so much power to influence the face of our criminal justice system and protect justice-involved people during this unprecedented global health crisis. As one of your constituents, I would like to know if you are taking the following steps to protect justice involved people:
- Are you dismissing as many pending charges as possible, particularly for nonviolent offenses, in order to keep people from having to come to court or otherwise interact with the criminal justice system?
- Are you partnering with community providers to connect people leaving custody with medical care, housing, and other essential services?
- Are you suspending prosecution of failures to appear, including issuance of orders of arrest?
- Are you working with court administrators to identify for immediate release people in detention who are at high risk of being affected by COVID-19, including people who are 55 years and older, those who are pregnant, and those with serious chronic medical conditions?
- Are you vacating all fines and fees so that people are not at risk of incarceration due to non-payment and are not required to engage in unnecessary travel to come into court to pay those financial obligations?
- Are you using your authority to release as many people from custody as possible?
- Are you filing “consent” motions for appropriate relief under NCGS 15A-1420(e) to vacate convictions for elderly and otherwise at-risk people in prisons and jails who do not pose a high risk of recidivism?
- Will you issue a blanket consent order for a written promise for all but those with the most violent charges?
I look forward to your timely response as there is no time to waste in protecting ALL of North Carolina’s citizens from COVID-19.
[Your name here]