Prison reform advocate and head of the Wishing for Wings Foundation Debbie Jacob is asking the public to donate sanitisers, soap and other cleaning agents to prison inmates.
Jacob, a Newsday columnist, said on Wednesday, “Throughout covid19 I have been helping them, because they have to sanitise constantly. Some of them don’t have the money or support from relatives to get basic things like washing soaps and other sanitisers, so that’s a problem.”
With the upsurge of cases, she said it’s critical at this time for inmates to continue regular sanitisation. And while contributions are coming in, more help is needed.
“If I had to prioritise, it would be to ask for any kind of soaps, bleach, hand sanitisers.
“Since the beginning of covid19, I have been trying to keep up with helping these inmates to get what is required to keep them safe. It’s just too much to keep up with now, where the demand is growing. And because they can’t social distance we want to keep them as safe as possible.”
Carlos Corraspie, head of prison programmes, spoke of challenges in getting enough of these items for the inmates.
“But I won’t say there is a shortage of these items, because remember, we still have families who have been able to purchase them,” he told Newsday on Wednesday.
But he said help is welcome for prisoners whose families are unable or who refuse to provide what they need.
When contacted, acting Commissioner of Prisons Shamshudeen Mohammed said the prison usually buys additional items out of its limited budget to help prisoners without such support.
But there is still a percentage of inmates who need these items and the prisons may be unable to consistently meet this demand.
“We do have unfortunate persons within the prison service. They don’t receive visits or support for a number of reasons. But be that as it may, we do buy a lot of these various covid19(-related) items to mitigate the risk of infection.
"Sometimes when we are unable to purchase these additional inmates to help these inmates we reach out to support groups to lend a hand in any way they can.
“In a time like this there is never enough, and as a result of that, we are willing to accept all help once it’s properly approved and searched.”
There are currently 11 active cases of covid19 in the prisons. Of a total of 280 cases to date, 269 have recovered. To date,no covid19 deaths have been recorded.
Anyone willing to donate must write to the commissioner of prisons or call the prison administration office at 623-7070.