Meek Mill
Meek Mill
(Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Meek Mill's REFORM Alliance Unveils Coronavirus Prison Prevention Policy

Meek Mill (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The plan comes at a time when prison populations throughout the country are at risk of spreading COVID-19.

Meek Mill's criminal justice organization REFORM Alliance has revealed their plan to stop the dangerous spread of coronavirus behind bars. JAY-Z, Robert Kraft, and Michael Rubin are also co-founders of REFORM. According to Complex, the organization is aiming to assist U.S. governors with preventing the spread of the virus throughout the jailing system. 

Titled the S.A.F.E.R. plan, the policy recommendation directly targets at-risk communities. Since incarcerated individuals are at risk due to their daily conditions, REFORM is asking governors to “suspend technical violation, probation visits, and fines and fees.” Additionally, they suggested governors adopt alternatives to incarceration, offer free medical visits and treatment with protective gear. REFORM has also encouraged extra precautions for prison staff, called for the release of the elderly and those vulnerable to home confinement. 

REFORM Alliance's chief advocacy officer Jessica Jackson released the following statement on the plan:

"As our country takes measures to protect against coronavirus, we can’t afford to forget about the millions of people under the control of our criminal justice system. People in prisons, jails, or under community supervision are more at risk of contracting and spreading the virus, given their age, underlying health conditions, and close contact to each other. Protecting these individuals from coronavirus is not just a moral obligation, but necessary to preserve the health and safety of our communities."

Currently, the following organizations have endorsed the policy recommendation: The National Urban League, Justice Action Network and R Street Institute. REFORM has also rolled out a petition to make the mission of the plan more effective and call for participation amongst public officials. “Failing to act could expose tens of thousands of people in prisons and jails across the country to the virus,” reads the petition. "Given the crowded nature of our correctional institutions, an outbreak is likely and would not only endanger people in prisons but also correctional staff and outside communities." 

 Meek Mill’s plan is timely, especially given the fact that the first positive inmate case for coronavirus was confirmed yesterday at New York’s Rikers Island. Yesterday, The Intercept reported the case and also shared that an NYC Department of Corrections employee died on Tuesday after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. 

A New York Daily News report noted that the first cases of coronavirus at the jail included: one incarcerated person and a prison guard who worked at Rikers Island’s gate, proving the seriousness of endangering the prison population. 

Yesterday, public advocates continued calling for immediate assistance to help the elderly incarcerated at Rikers Island. There are 900 of these individuals over the age of 50. The majority of them suffer from chronic illnesses. On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio said that the mayor's office of criminal justice was working to identify those in custody who are potentially at high risk of contracting coronavirus. He proposed that they could be removed from city jails.

Take a look at a series of tweets below reportedly from the Chief Physician of Rikers Island.