A week ago we launched our Soap for Incarcerated People campaign in partnership with the Human Kindness Foundation. In that same week, your efforts sent over 460 bars of Benevolence Farm soap to incarcerated people in the Orange Correctional Center. In that same week, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver released a segment highlighting the injustices faced by incarcerated people during this pandemic.
“In jails or prisons, soap may be rationed or not available at all. And if [people] need more, they may have to buy it from the commissary…and [people] only make pennies for their labor. Some facilities have even posted signs about the importance of hand washing, but continue to charge [people] access to soap…there should always be enough soap.” – John Oliver
Additionally, the Prison Policy Initiative gave North Carolina an F+ grade for its response to COVID-19 in jails and prisons: “The results are clear: despite all of the information, voices calling for action, and the obvious need, state responses ranged from disorganized or ineffective, at best, to callously nonexistent at worst. Even using data from criminal justice system agencies — that is, even using states’ own versions of this story — it is clear that no state has done enough and that all states failed to implement a cohesive, system-wide response.“
At Benevolence Farm, it is clear to us that our state and local jurisdictions have failed incarcerated people during this pandemic. Our Soap for Incarcerated People campaign is a stop-gap effort to do what we can to provide high-quality hygiene supplies to people who have little to no control over social distancing and access to PPE. We are also taking steps to advocate for people on the inside and do what we can do to transform or even abolish systems. In the past few months, we have signed an affidavit in a court case to offer more reentry support to people released early as a result of the pandemic. We’ve sent hundreds of surveys to incarcerated women to better understand what’s going on inside regarding the pandemic response. We talk to reporters and connect them to directly impacted people so they can share their stories. This pandemic should and does not need to sentence people to death. We can and will do better.
Benevolence Farm is continually inspired and amazed by the leadership of formerly incarcerated people always, but especially during this time. We will continue to follow their lead and fight until all of us are free.
Want to learn more about prisons and issues relating to incarceration? Here’s what we’re listening to: