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Opinion ‘No such thing as social distancing’ when you’re incarcerated


Holly Harris is the president of Justice Action Network. Topeka K. Sam is co-founder and senior adviser of New Yorkers United for Justice. Under normal times, they are among the activists at the forefront of criminal justice reform. In fact, Harris, a former general counsel to the Kentucky Republican Party, was on “Cape Up” in Oct. 2018 talking about her efforts to reduce mass incarceration.

But with the coronavirus stalking the world, Harris and Sam are pleading with President Trump and governors across the country to release certain prisoners to home confinement. That’s because jails and prisons are petri dishes for illness and disease. “When I was incarcerated, there’s no way not to avoid another person,” shared Sam, who served three years in federal prison on drug conspiracy charges. “When you’re in a cell, you are there with someone, and if they’re sick, you’re gonna get sick too.”

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In this episode of “Cape Up,” Sam and Harris explain why the incarcerated should demand more attention than they are getting. “This is a public health crisis that impacts not just people who are in jails and prisons, but all of us — every single one of us,” Harris explained. “So, even if you don’t have empathy for those who are incarcerated, you better care about this right now.”

“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

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