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Protestor numbers continue growing following first rally as Delaware becomes the State with second-most prisoner deaths from COVID-19

DOVER, Del.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, nearly 100 protestors will gather outside Governor John Carney’s Dover office condemning his slow, neglectful response to COVID-19 in Delaware’s prisoners. On Wednesday, the ninth person died in Delaware’s prison system, making Delaware the second worst state behind New Jersey for inmate deaths per capita.

The Sussex County Correctional institution (SCI) has had more than 350 prisoners test positive for COVID-19 after the Governor denied facemasks to the prisoners well after the State’s mandate for Delaware residents. Governor Carney and the DOC also denied a donation of 5,000 medical masks from Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware. After seeing the death toll rise and hearing firsthand complaints from prisoners in Delaware’s system, Justice for Prisoners held its first rally calling on the DOC to correct their poor treatment of inmates. The group gathered with nearly 50 people, calling on Claire DeMatteis to address inhumane treatment of prisoners. The group’s demands were ignored, and Justice for Prisoners will protest again, demanding a response from Governor Carney.

Said Heather Morris, organizer of Justice for Prisoners, “Prisoners are people, and they deserve respect, dignity and at the very least, safety. The Governor is responsible for the Department of Corrections and the inhumane treatment of inmates. He can no longer ignore our calls for proper care of our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers that are in Delaware correctional facilities. Nine deaths are nine lives lost and nine families suffering. There should be no more.”

The group will be joined by more than 100 protestors from Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware and local residents concerned about the safety of incarcerated people who, In Delaware, are sickened and killed by COVID-19 at the 2nd highest rate in the nation.

“Governor Carney’s failures in leadership on issues from police reform, to judicial accountability, to Covid-19 response have been apparent for years,” said Chris Coffey, campaign manager for Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware. “The recent deaths in State correctional institutions are just more of the same from a Governor that just doesn’t seem to care about the welfare of those on the margins of Delaware society. We admire and support Justice for Prisoners for giving voice to inmates who have been ignored because they did not have a platform. Well, they have a platform now. And they will continue to have a platform until demands for proper care and safety are met.”

Justice for Prisoners are demanding universal testing and PPE for all guards, staff and inmates. They are asking the state to remove the co-pay inmates must pay to receive medical care and the protection of the right to shower and launder, both of which were claimed by inmates to have been denied. The groups calls for transparency in how the system is tracking prisoners as “recovered” from COVID in their reporting and accountability for retaliation from guards or prison staff on inmates that speak out regarding their poor treatment.


Chris Coffey, [email protected]

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