ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Over 50 people gathered at the Governor’s Mansion, pleading for mass clemency in New York for vulnerable inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Candlelight Vigil was coordinated by the organization RAPP—Release Aging People in Prison.
“Right now anyone who’s inside is subjected to a death sentence. Covid is real, people are dying.” Thomas Kearney, the Capital Region Organizer for RAPP, said.
According to the latest Department of Corrections and Community Supervision report on December 4, the total number of incarcerated individuals with confirmed positives is up to 1,848 in New York. Currently, 91.5% of those positives cases are considered recovered and 18 have died.
Kearney believes the only way to combat a continued rise in positive cases in prisons, is to grant mass clemency because facilities aren’t capable of adhering to proper social distancing measures.
However, Department of Corrections’ responded with a statement, disagreeing with that sentiment.
“Every facet of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been guided by facts, scientific data, and the guidance of public health experts at NYS DOH,” the DOCCS stated.
In response to a growing concern for inmates during the pandemic, Governor Cuomo signed legislation last week to allow the Correctional Association of New York more access to prisons as they continue to provide independent monitoring services.
Kearney said the new monitoring protocols won’t be enough to bring about change. “The only way that the Governor can solve this issue, is by granting mass clemencies in this moment,” Kearney said.