Dozens of protesters chanted outside the Elmira Correctional Facility Tuesday morning, calling for change in response to the high number of positive COVID-19 cases reported there.
"Everyone that's here today wants to de-carcerate. We want to end solitary confinement as a means for medical quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic," said protester Sammie Werkheiser.
What You Need To Know
- Dozens of protesters chanted outside the Elmira Correctional Facility Tuesday morning
- According to the state, there are more than 450 active cases in the prison
- The prison stopped allowing visitors last Wednesday
According to the state, there are more than 450 active cases in the prison. The prison stopped allowing visitors last Wednesday. But protesters say that isn't enough. Among their demands, they want inmates 55 or older who have served 15 years to be released.
"These people do not pose a risk to society. It's time to let them go. My friend, Darlene Lulu Benson-Seay, was doing time at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She had a heart operation last year. She was not granted clemency by Governor Cuomo and she died from COVID-19 this year," said Werkheiser.
"Obviously we're not going to let the most outrageous, murderer, all those people that just got in, that's not what we're fighting for. It's the vulnerable people. Let them go home let them get treated properly," said protester Irene Aylward.
The state said Monday when they found out about the cases, they began testing all prisoners, isolating positive inmates, and debunking beds.
"The majority of the cases that we're seeing are asymptomatic so we believe that this is a byproduct of community spread. Where it exists in the community, it's very difficult to keep it out of congregant facilities," said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor.
But activists say the problem isn't isolated to Elmira.
"Its not just this facility, but specifically people from across the state have heard about what's happening here and people from across the state came here," said Ashley Gantt, a protester who traveled from Rochester.
There are still almost 400 test results pending.
**As of Wednesday, October 28, the Department of Corrections has announced that the current number of active COVID-19 cases within Elmira Correctional has now risen to 588.