100 signatures reached
To: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Cuomo: Stop exploiting incarcerated labor for the production of hand sanitizer.
We are outraged by your disdain and lack of care for incarcerated people. We will not tolerate the exploitation of 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Why is this important?
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.
The virus has already made its way into jails and prisons across the state and is wreaking havoc. Riker's Island has at least 40+ cases, an employee at Sing Sing prison tested positive, and the first incarcerated person to test positive is at Long Island county jail. And these are just the cases we know of. Incarcerated people need protection, not exploitation!
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.
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.