Love Resists
Dear Friend,
“We are not being treated like we are human. They keep saying that what they are doing to us is what the CDC advised to them. But to everyone else on the outside, they are saying 6 feet of social distancing. We are not getting that in here. Instead, they are locking us down and confining us to our small, shared cells.”
- A loved one in federal prison, name confidential for safety
Love Resists shares the following message from UU Minister Rev. Van Fossan and other members of a coalition of Indigenous people and allies with loved ones in federal prison. Please act for their release and safety from COVID-19.
Dear Ones,

We hold you and your loved ones in steady, strong prayers during the time of COVID-19. In this spirit, we have come together as an ad hoc group of Indigenous people and allies, to urge the Bureau of Prisons to recognize our shared humanity – and take appropriate actions. You may know that Indigenous people are incarcerated in federal prisons at a rate 38% higher than the national average. Very recently, we lost Andrea Circle Bear, a Cheyenne River Lakota mother, to COVID-19, shortly after she gave birth in a federal prison.

We are concerned – and sometimes deeply frightened – for our loved ones’ wellbeing during this pandemic. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has been uncoordinated and unresponsive to this public health crisis. Their policies aren’t adequate, and they don’t adequately follow the policies they do have. While some states and localities have begun to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in prisons, the federal system lags behind.

One group member, who wishes to remain anonymous for her brother’s protection, shares, “The judge recommended a medical facility for my brother due to his age and many medical issues. He is a veteran, and his medical needs haven't been adhered to, especially during this virus epidemic!”

Our loved ones in prison tell us that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is only available sporadically – and that the structures themselves are ill-equipped for proper isolation. Sometimes, people who are sick with COVID-19 are held in bleak solitary confinement, because no other provisions are possible in overcrowded facilities. Prison staff are so concerned about prison conditions and the effects on their workplace safety, many have filed lawsuits and complaints.

As Olive Bias, another member of our group has said, “Prisons notoriously engage in systemic medical neglect of inmates. Petitions and suits filed in court to address grievances or release can take months if not years to process. COVID-19 has simply compounded these harsh realities. The bureaucracy is deadly.”

Please join us in contacting your Members of Congress, and urge them to demand that the Bureau of Prisons follow its own policies and adopt better ones – releasing people who have less than one year remaining on their sentences and ensuring humane and safe conditions for those left behind in prison.

With your attention and your action, we have hope for the well-being of our loved ones – and for the world we long to create together.

With gratitude,

Karen Van Fossan, UU minister
Olive Bias, civil rights paralegal
Ruth Buffalo, North Dakota representative
Sandra Freeman, civil rights attorney
Anonymous group members, family of the incarcerated
Love Resists is a joint campaign by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

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Love Resists
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