A group of New York lawmakers starting this weekend will make visits to state prisons, jails and detention centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in the facilities.
Sen. Julia Salazar, the chairwoman of the Senate Corrections Committee, along with Assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa and Assemblyman Dan Quart will make the first visits starting on Saturday.
“Tomorrow, we begin a month of visits to jails, prisons and ICE detention centers by over a dozen New York State Senators and Assembly Members,” the lawmakers siad in a statement.
“As we visit our constituents behind bars, we call for the passage of the Justice Roadmap, a bold legislative agenda to decarcerate New York and address the harms of the criminal legal and immigration systems. We mourn for those who have died from COVID-19 in jails and prisons and commit to addressing the public health scourge of mass incarceration. We cannot allow more sickness and death behind bars. We call on the Governor to release vulnerable people and ensure vaccine access for incarcerated New Yorkers while we continue the fight for parole reform and an end to solitary confinement.”
The visits come as advocates and some legislators have called for the release of an increasing number of inmates considered especially vulnerable to the virus. A surge in the virus in prisons have renewed these concerns amid a slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The trips are scheduled to include five sate prisons, two local jails and a detention center used by ICE.