COLUMBUS — Ahead of Friday’s press briefing the ACLU of Ohio published a list of questions for Governor DeWine and ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton to answer and address at the daily 2pm conference. Since March 10, the ACLU of Ohio has been urging Governor DeWine to announce a plan to rapidly reduce jail and prison populations to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 behind bars and across Ohio communities. Now, the situation has become so dire and taken a turn for the worse - with 17 deaths, 3816 positive cases, and 22 DRC facilities under quarantine.
The ACLU of Ohio urges Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton to answer the following questions:
- You have featured many members of your administration at your daily press conferences. When will you have Director Chambers-Smith appear?
- Have the growing number of deaths, infections and staff infections made you rethink whether Ohio is doing enough in our prisons?
- Last week the OCSEA expressed grievances about staff conditions inside ODRC facilities and requested assistance from the National Guard. What steps are being taken to ensure that the safety and well-being of ODRC staff, military personnel, and prisoners are equal priorities during this pandemic?
- Exactly what duties are National Guard members performing? Are they acting as corrections officers? Do you plan on deploying more? If so, at what facilities?
- The ODRC medical care system was not designed to handle an institutional crises of this magnitude. What steps are being taken to ensure that quality care will be provided to inmates in facilities where the infection rate could quickly reach 100 percent?
- Will you implement testing for all youth and staff at DYS facilities now that the virus is confirmed in at least one facility? If so, when will this begin? We’ve seen through Marion CI how quickly an outbreak can occur.
- What is your plan for releasing youth held in DYS facilities to community-based alternatives, starting with the most medically vulnerable?
- A new COVID-19 model finds that nearly 100,000 more people across the US will die than currently predicted unless rapid actions occur to reduce jail populations across the country. Can you talk about your plan to decarcerate Ohio jails, which are often filled with people awaiting conviction unable to post cash bail?
- On Wednesday a federal judge ordered Elkton Federal Correctional Institution to identify and release several hundred medically vulnerable inmates due to the spread of COVID-19. Why have you not taken the same approach to state prisons and does this court order change your thinking on this matter?