Steve DeAngelo, the founder of California's Harborside dispensary and of the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), which fights for the release of all people incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses, has released a video statement calling for the release of prisoners incarcerated for cannabis as the coronavirus spreads in the US prison system.
When you're locked in a cell, … you're powerless. DeAngelo said, describing the epidemic from the prisoners' perspective. You have no control over your food, your social distance, even the air you breathe. And already the coronavirus is in prison.
In an accompanying press release, LPP outlines several actions that legislators should take to immediately help reduce the impact of VIDOC-19 among prison populations, including :
- Identifying prisoners scheduled for release within the next six months and sending them home to be confined.
- Conditional release of inmates aged 65 and over, with priority given to inmates at particular risk of exposure to the virus.
- Reduce direct supervision of detainees to promote social distancing
- Suspension of paid medical visits for prisoners
- Free video and phone calls for incarcerated people
- Release of all prisoners imprisoned on cannabis charges
There are 2.3 million people in the United States in prison, and the best way to reduce that number immediately would be to release every single person who is there on cannabis charges because it should never have been a crime in the first place. Steve DeAngelo, in his statement
This request by Steve DeAngelo accompanies statements by some police services who have announced that they will no longer travel for non-emergency situations in order to reduce social interactions between officers and potentially infected individuals.
Police in Washington, D.C., continued to make non-essential arrests, including for the illegal distribution of cannabis, although personal cultivation and possession of cannabis have been legalized in the district.