April 30, 2020
Following weeks of refusal by the Delaware State Department of Correction (DOC) to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to prison inmates; on April 30 , Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware (CPBD) denounced the state in a press release for rejecting its donation of 4,600 face masks.
After distributing 10,000 masks to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable populations throughout Delaware; CPBD secured an additional 4,600 face masks, which the group immediately offered to the DOC in the wake of the first inmate death from the virus at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center for men near Smyrna, Delaware, earlier this week.
After initially accepting CPBD’s offer, the DOC reversed its decision and rejected the masks just four hours later—after agency officials informed the office of DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis, a political appointee of Governor John Carney, who has been criticized by CPBD for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
CPBD castigated the state’s rebuff, saying: “The DOC’s rejection of the PPE comes as the agency has still failed to provide face masks to all 4,200 inmates in its facilities, despite updated Centers for Disease Control guidelines that recommend wearing face coverings to slow the spread of the virus.
“With prisons across the country emerging as vectors for transmission of the deadly coronavirus, civil rights organizations including the ACLU and the NAACP have urged state officials to take steps like providing masks to mitigate the risk of coronavirus in correctional facilities.
“Delaware’s prisons are disproportionately filled with people of color, and racial breakdowns of the state’s coronavirus cases show that Black and Hispanic Delawareans are being infected with the coronavirus at a drastically higher rate than white residents.”
Said Pastor Dale Dennis II of Hoyt Memorial CME Church in Wilmington, “People of color make up over 60% of Delaware’s prison population—but less than 40% of our residents. We know that black and brown folks have been the victims of historic, systemic injustices at the hands of our criminal justice system, but the coronavirus crisis has put those that are incarcerated at a different level of vulnerability. I am joining the calls from many Pastors across the State for the DOC to provide the care that they would want to receive and protect our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers housed in their correctional care.”
Research contact: @ProBusinessDE