Photo @YouthJusticeLA

Inside LA’s fight to save inmates from COVID-19

Life and death are at stake for incarcerated people facing COVID-19

By LJ Dawson
By LJ Dawson

Founder of The Des and freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C.

On April 7, over 150 cars surrounded the courthouse and district attorney’s office to push officials to release people. The car march was an escalation by the Youth Justice Coalition after a slow response to the demands of a Mar. 16 letter signed by over 80 organizations. The letter listed demands from early releases to free access to masks and phone calls.

Almost 2000 people were released from the county jail system in the last two weeks, according to McGill. The L.A. County Board of Education has also voiced support.

Families are facing desperation. McGill compared it to Americans alone at home unable to see grandparents, but “[i]magine if that loved one was inside a cage .” The rally provided a way for people impacted by the justice system to come together.

“L.A. County has the largest jail system, the largest juvenile system, largest court system [and] the largest sheriff’s and probation department in the world. So to start to throw a wrench into the largest martial system in the world, I think it made people feel really powerful and really united that day.”

"To start to throw a wrench into the largest martial system in the world ... it made people feel really powerful and really united that day."

Photo @YouthJusticeLA

The conditions inside prisons across the country deteriorate as facilities confront the pandemic. In the L.A. county jail, inmates are on a 24-hour lock down with showers every three days, according to an inmate. People are eating meals in cells which house up to six people with no masks, disinfectant, sanitizer or additional hygiene products. Youth are being held in similar conditions with no reading or writing material.

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Founder of The Des and freelance criminal justice reporter based in Washington, D.C.