Today, I signed an Executive Order to expand the protections for prisoners housed with the Shelby County Division of Corrections. This Order will build on our previous efforts to be extremely aggressive in working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our prison facility, also known as the penal farm. See the Executive Order here.
For instance, we recently surged COVID-19 testing at the penal farm, in an effort to make sure we can identify cases and make efforts to reduce the risk of further transmission. During our surge in testing, everyone—every prisoner, every corrections officer, and every member of staff—was offered and encouraged to participate. We will continue to expand our efforts to make our facilities safe, protect the vulnerable, and lift up the concerns of the least of these. Among other measures, this Executive Order will ensure testing access; clear procedures for regularly distributing masks and personal hygiene supplies to inmates; protocols to help reduce the risk of spread in this unique environment; and a policy for screening everyone who enters our Corrections facilities.
More specifically, today’s Executive Order expands protections and requires the Division of Corrections to take several steps, including:
Around the country, some of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks have been in congregate settings, like nursing homes and prisons. Here in Shelby County, we will take an aggressive approach to expand protections in these settings. That includes expanding protections at Shelby County’s prison to reduce the risk of spread among the inmates who are housed there. That includes working with partners, like MICAH, that have been actively engaged on these issues.
Individuals, who have been on the wrong side of the law, deserve our humanity and compassion. Although they were sentenced to a prison term, they were not sentenced to COVID-19.
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