It’s unconscionable: More than 700 incarcerated people in Arkansas have been diagnosed with COVID-19 – all because state officials failed to take essential measures to combat the spread of this disease.  

Last week we sued along with a coalition of civil rights attorneys to demand the release of vulnerable people and force state prisons to implement the social distancing and sanitizing measures necessary to keep people safe. Our suit seeks release of those who can safely be released and protection for those who aren’t – including ensuring adequate soap, sanitization, and personal protective equipment for people incarcerated and for prison staff. 

Arkansas’ overcrowded prisons are becoming a humanitarian and public health catastrophe that disproportionately endangers the lives of Black Arkansans, who are four times more likely to be imprisoned than whites. 

While our lawsuit proceeds, it’s critical that Governor Hutchinson hears from his constituents about the urgent need to combat this prison pandemic that threatens the health of all Arkansans. We know our advocacy is making a difference because state officials just announced they would make more than 1,200 people eligible for early release. But that’s just a tiny fraction of our prison population and not nearly enough to stop our prisons from becoming a tinderbox for this disease. 

Those concerned or seeking assistance about loved ones in the prison system can be made confidentially to 1-833-523-0354.