JLUSA Statement on the Monkeypox Public Health Emergency and Protecting People in Prisons and Jails

August 4, 2022

NEW YORK — In response to the Biden administration’s announcement today that the Monkeypox virus is now a public health emergency, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) is renewing its calls for the federal government to take the necessary steps to protect the lives of people incarcerated in prisons and jails across the country.

From JLUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins: “Once again we are facing a public health emergency that we know our prisons and jails across this country are not prepared to handle. We saw this—and frankly, we continue to see this—with COVID-19, and now we are bracing for another wave of inadequate and disparate treatment for incarcerated people when it comes to monkeypox.

“Incarcerated people are the only people in this country who, when a judge sentences you, you are sentenced to the custody and care of the state. This means that your housing, clothing, nutritional needs, and healthcare must all be taken care of by the state. When the state fails to do that, they are failing to abide by what has been laid out as its role and responsibility in caring for and protecting those individuals. And yet we know that prisons and jails are some of the only spaces of housing that are not currently required by law to have an emergency plan in place to protect the lives of people in case of emergencies, such as fires, hurricanes, heatwaves, or in this instance, a public health crisis.”

The #JustUs campaign was launched by JustLeadershipUSA in June 2020 to demand that federal and state policymakers immediately adopt policy recommendations to save the lives of incarcerated people during any type of major crisis or emergency. This call to action inspired  the Correctional Facility Disaster Preparedness Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate and the bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), which recently passed in the House of Representatives.


Contact: Stephen Roach Knight, stephen@jlusa.org / jlusa@ellecomm.com

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