ACLU Poll Shows Wide-Ranging Support for Releasing Vulnerable People from Jails and Prisons

Following First Death in Federal Prison, ACLU Continues to Demand Release of Those Vulnerable

March 30, 2020 12:30 pm

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union released today a new poll from Bully Pulpit Interactive that demonstrates far-ranging, bipartisan support for releasing people from prisons and jails as part of the COVID-19 public health response. According to the poll:

  • 63 percent of registered voters support releasing people from jails and prisons to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • 72 percent of voters support clemency for elderly incarcerated people in the midst of this pandemic

The polling comes on the heels of the death of the first person in federal prison over the weekend.

Udi Ofer, director of the ACLU’s Justice Division, highlighted how the poll provides a mandate for action for President Trump and governors across the country to release people from prisons and jails as part of the COVID-19 public health response in the following statement:

"Public health experts have made clear that the nation must take immediate steps to reduce the number of people in jails and prisons as part of the coronavirus response efforts. The tragic death of Patrick Jones over the weekend — a man incarcerated for a drug offense but handed a death sentence due to his incarceration — highlights that every day that passes without action puts thousands more at risk of getting sick or dying.

“The ACLU is working with our affiliates across the United States to urge the president and governors to act by safely releasing individuals who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, including by commuting or paroling the sentences of the elderly or sick, as well as releasing from jail people who are incarcerated solely because of inability to afford cash bail or a crimeless supervision violation. This is a matter not just of community health, but also of racial justice, as people of color are disproportionately incarcerated and thus impacted by government inaction.”

The polling can be found here:

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