Angola prisoners, fearing COVID-19, seek aid and release

Aljerwon Moran with his daughter

by Aljerwon Moran

Inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary being exposed to COVID-19 say prison officials are not doing enough to protect their health and lives. The lack of response by the Department of Corrections violates state and federal guidelines that protect the life and health of those incarcerated due to Angola’s unique double bunked and overcrowded situation. LSP already pays fines to the fire marshal; however, fines do not make up for lives lost.

Many LSP inmates feel unnecessary high-risk exposure to the virus. Imagine if someone sick with COVID-19 comes into your home with everyone there and locked all the windows and doors behind them. That’s what LSP administration policy has been so far, all over the prison. Social distancing is impossible and none detained can leave.

The prison policy so far has been to quarantine the whole dorm by locking it down for 14 days after someone tests positive. Then they simply check the rest of the inmates in the dorm for fever and ask them how they feel. 

The first dorm in Cypress unit has already been re-opened without the COVID-19 test and is eating in the same chow hall with inmates who have not been exposed to the virus. We are packed into close quarters with multiple cells in a single pod or open dormitories, both with communal showers, mess halls, and recreation areas that will breed and transmit the virus. 

. . . a class action lawsuit has been filed by federal prisoners seeking release of hundreds of high-risk inmates in Louisiana, where the virus has claimed the lives of multiple prisoners and infected many others – the numbers rising daily.

This despite the fact that prisons are a known hotbed for infections, and despite LSP’s known elderly population with multiple health problems, administration has yet to implement a systematic testing protocol. The prison is failing to test prisoners and staff, even though tests are available, thus risking the lives of every prisoner and staff member at LSP already exposed to COVID-19. Jails are sending positive inmates to LSP, where the oldest, most at risk population of inmates in Louisiana live.

As to COVID-19, a class action lawsuit has been filed by federal prisoners seeking release of hundreds of high-risk inmates locked up in Louisiana, where the virus has claimed the lives of multiple prisoners and infected many others, with the numbers rising daily.

The government’s response to COVID-19 regarding prisoners has been inadequate to say the least, ignoring their own guidelines on social distancing, and restricting visiting by prisoner’s counsel is hindering those counsels ability to defend any of the prisoners in a timely fashion to preserve loss of life and health.

Unable to take precautionary measures, LSP prisoners are undefended sitting ducks in this pandemic. At the mercy of administrative inaction, the risk of COVID-19 spreading in parish prisons and specifically at LSP is a pressing problem, as the threat and the magnitude of the threat has grown exponentially. Meanwhile, daily tallies show sharp jumps in the number of prisoners and staff testing positive at the jails in Orleans and Jefferson Parish, because more were tested per capita than Angola. However, LSP and Louisiana’s youth facilities are climbing daily while Orleans and Jefferson have reached a plateau possibly due to testing and sending positive inmates to Angola.

Even prosecutors from around the country are calling for an immediate reduction of jail and prison populations to address the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak. An outbreak of COVID-19 left unchecked in these custodial facilities because we are prisoners would not only move fast, it would potentially be catastrophic like the nursing homes around the country, because of age, health and closeness. If these facilities become breeding grounds for COVID-19, the sheer numbers of the prison population in America are greater than any nation, and it will not only impact those incarcerated, but our entire community. “REMEMBER IT WAS A STAFF MEMBER WHO DIED FIRST.”

Where are the tests for the inmates on quarantine? Are they scared of the results? Where are the masks and gloves for the general population?

What is a human life worth? “Politics as usual …”

Aljerwon Moran 

Send our brother some love and light: Aljerwon Moran, 594012, Pine-1, Louisiana State Prison, Angola LA 70712. Or he can be reached by JPay.com at “aljerwon moran #594012 LSP Angola La 70712.”