Gov. Cuomo is forcing incarcerated people to make hand sanitizer for less than $1 a day. Demand a humane response to Coronavirus.

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    Gov. Cuomo is forcing incarcerated people to make hand sanitizer for less than $1 a day. Demand a humane response to Coronavirus.

    Gov. Cuomo at a press conference, holding a bottle that reads

    UPDATE 3/25/20:

    Just as expected, COVID-19 has spread to jails and prisons across New York state in just a matter of days, and it's wreaking havoc on incarcerated people. Riker's Island has at least 40+ confirmed cases, an employee at Sing Sing prison tested positive, and the first known incarcerated person to contract the virus is at Long Island county jail. And those are just the cases of which we know.

    Gov. Cuomo, in his public efforts to stop the spread of the virus, proudly proclaims that he's fighting to save every life. But his actions toward incarcerated people tell a different story. He has yet to implement a humane plan to significantly reduce the incarcerated population. And he continues to exploit incarcerated labor for a life-saving product (hand sanitizer), that they can't even use themselves.

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    In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, New York Gov. Cuomo is exploiting the forced labor of incarcerated people to make hand sanitizer but is doing nothing to protect them. In his proud announcement that Corcraft, a state-run corporation operating in state prisons, is manufacturing hand sanitizer scented like a "very nice floral bouquet," he casually left out the fact that the people work for Corcraft are paid less than one dollar per day. And to add insult, people in prison may not even be able to use the hand sanitizer themselves because, according to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, anything with alcohol content is contraband. 

    People locked in prisons deserve safety and wellness just as much as every other New Yorker. Yet, instead of ensuring that, Cuomo has been doing everything to treat incarcerated people with complete disdain -- undeserving of basic rights and human dignity. He has refused to take up the vast majority of clemency petitions and expand parole and medical release for elderly incarcerated people personally blocked the passage of the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, allowed New York State to continue to operate under a Jim Crow-era voting law that prohibits incarcerated people from voting, and is currently championing rollbacks to recently enacted bail reforms that would expand the jail population. 

    Prisons and jails are places where a vulnerable population is forced into close quarters, healthcare is poor, and access to soap, sanitizer, toilet paper is limited at best. Inside a prison or jail, it is near impossible to contain an outbreak of infectious disease. This puts both incarcerated people and the people who work in jails at health risk. 

    Here are the things Gov. Cuomo has the power to do right now to uphold the wellness and humanity of incarcerated people while enacting policies to slow the spread of this outbreak:

    • Use clemency power to immediately release incarcerated New Yorkers who are particularly vulnerable to the Coronavirus, including older people, pregnant women, people with serious illnesses, and compromised immune systems. The best methods for preventing the spread of disease inside a prison involve releasing people to the care of their families before an outbreak inside happens.
    • Put an end to forced labor in prisons & institute a living wage for incarcerated workers. New York State has a law that requires all incarcerated people to work--it's not optional. And worse, the labor is severely underpaid at as low as 10 cents/hour. It's modern-day slavery and it must end. 
    • Stop rollbacks on bail reform and keep jail populations low. The conditions inside jails guarantee the spread of disease once contaminated. Needlessly increasing the number of people cycling in and out of jails will undoubtedly exacerbate the spread of Coronavirus. 

    We need your support to make sure Cuomo hears this message loud and clear. People locked in prisons and jails are extremely vulnerable in times like this--but with the power of people like you, we can ensure that they aren't forgotten nor exploited. Sign the petition. 

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    Here is the Petition:
    We are outraged by your disdain and lack of care for incarcerated people. We will not tolerate the exploitation prison labor for state products and goods, and demand you center the wellness and safety of all New Yorkers during the COVID-19 outbreak. We ask that you prioritize the following policies that are within your power to implement:
    • Use clemency power to immediately release incarcerated New Yorkers who are particularly vulnerable to the Coronavirus, including older people, pregnant women, people with serious illnesses, and compromised immune systems. The best methods for preventing the spread of disease inside a prison involve releasing people to the care of their families before an outbreak inside happens.
    • Put an end to forced labor in prisons & institute a living wage for incarcerated workers. New York State has a law that requires all incarcerated people work--it's not optional. And worse, the labor is severely underpaid at as low as 16 cents/hour. It's modern-day slavery and it must end. 
    • Stop rollbacks on bail reform and keep jail populations low. The conditions inside jails guarantee the spread of disease once contaminated. Needlessly increasing the number of people cycling in and out of jails will undoubtedly exacerbate the spread of Coronavirus.