The fourth issue of News Inside presents a survival guide co-developed with M.D.s Brie Williams and Leah Rorvig of Amend at UCSF to help incarcerated people fight COVID-19 despite structural challenges to social distancing and rules against safety equipment that exist in institutions. A TV version of the PSA is also being broadcast in prisons and jails in at least three states. It’s our response to the pleas for help we receive from incarcerated people across the country who believe they are forgotten, invisible and last on the list for testing and treatment.
Even as COVID-19 dominates the conversation, News Inside remains committed to bringing incarcerated readers a deeper view of the criminal justice world. “What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars?” is the first of a series driven by the political opinion survey we featured in Issue 3. Impressively, over 8,000 incarcerated people in 25 states responded.
In this issue, readers will also find stories about a for-profit company that claims it can get people released earlier, one media outlet’s decision to stop the lucrative practice of publishing mugshots, and the value volunteers bring into correctional facilities with art, education, therapeutic exercises and more.
It is my desire to find ways to reach the incarcerated population despite the drastic changes that have been imposed on their lives. Libraries are closed, the very volunteers I’ve mentioned above are precluded from entering facilities, lives are being lost and incarcerated people are huddling in fear as they rely on horrific television and limited local radio broadcasts for information.
This is why we consult with DOC officials in counties and states, across the country, to come up with practical ways of getting News Inside to our readers. It’s crucial to balance the information wants of incarcerated people with the understanding that facility safety precautions may hinder distribution. We are also conscious of the many correctional staff members who have lost their lives and of the officials who are under a lot of pressure amid their mourning.
I don’t have to tell everyone that these times are tough, but we will continue to be creative in sending our award-winning journalism into prisons and jails across the United States. The presidential elections are around the corner, and changes to the criminal justice landscape continue to happen. People need us now more than ever.