Statement on Covid-19 and Prisoner Release

I hereby make the below statement available under the latest Creative Commons by-attribution, no-derivatives, share-alike, commercial-use-permitted license.

I sent you this message at approximately 12:59 P.M. on Monday, March 23rd, 2020.

Waiting for Covid-19 to spread in America's prisons is unconstitutional. America is better than that.

The relevant standard under The Eighth Amendment is deliberate indifference. Basically, if prison authorities know that a deadly problem is coming; if they can see it on the horizon in time to do something about it, but then fail to take the steps that any idiot can plainly see are necessary and prudent to save lives, and those lives are lost; then they are guilty of cruel and unusual punishment. Please see Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14 (1980).

And this is not to say that releasing violent hardened criminals is prudent. Of course it is not prudent to trade the risk of an infection with an equally-or-more-likely risk of violent crime.

There are cases of non-violent offenders, however, where releases or furloughs are prudent.

On top of these, there are cases where lying federal prosecutors and crooked judges railroaded political opponents, whistleblowers, and other people who remain innocent of any crimes whatsoever. Please see Limone v. United States, 497 F. Supp. 2d 143, 151 Sec. I INTRODUCTION (D. Mass. 2007).

Tellingly, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is already treating Covid-19 as a public-health emergency. Prisoner transfers are halted. Contact visits and even attorney visits are suspended until further notice. The BOP will be unable to claim credibly later that it did not see the storm clouds on the horizon when it has already taken these steps.

I hope that whoever disingenuously denies that Covid-19 is already a public-health emergency will be held accountable to the full extent of the law for any resulting lives that are lost. In the prison context, such deniers may hope to prove that they are hard asses, but, in reality, they prove only that they are dumb asses.

--Martin "MartyG" Gottesfeld, Rolling-Stone--featured human-rights advocate from a semi-secret DOJ "black-site" prison.