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Jay-Z And Meek Mill Donate Over 10 Million Masks To US Jails And Prisons

Jay Z and Meek Mill’s REFORM Alliance will supply US correctional facilities in all 50 states with 10 million surgical masks and other personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of coronavirus among inmate populations.

via Twitter/ @ajplus

“This is 2.3 million Americans that don’t usually have the loudest voice,” Bob Pilon, president of the REFORM Alliance, told CBS News.

“That’s why we’re doing this, to give that population a voice and answer their call to be treated like humans.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey showed support for REFORM’s initiative with a $10 million donation through his Start Small foundation.

Dorsey pledged $1 billion to COVID-19 relief efforts in early April, launching Start Small with the aim to transparently track its charitable contributions via a public Google Doc throughout the pandemic and beyond the crisis.

Start Small’s contribution comes in response to REFORM’s digital campaign #AnswerTheirCall, a series of voice memos that puts a spotlight on inmates’ stories to end the inhumanity of mass incarceration.

“I’m grateful REFORM exists. The criminal justice system needs to change. COVID-19 adds to the injustices, and REFORM is best suited to help,” Dorsey said in a statement obtained by CBS News.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, social distancing is virtually “impossible” in prisons.

via Twitter/ @ajplus

Although jails have cut inmate populations by 25% since the pandemic began, state prisons continue to house populations dangerously overcrowded by social distancing standards.

With staff moving in and out of facilities each day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for widespread testing of both correctional staff and inmates.

Correctional facilities that have been able to administer tests show the highest number of confirmed cases. According to data analyzed by the UCLA School of Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project, it stands to reason that institutions with less access to testing are host to a significantly underreported number of positive cases.

REFORM was co-founded in 2019 by Meek Mill and Jay-Z along with Fanatics owner Michael Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Since the pandemic began, the organization has supplied US correctional facilities with over 100,000 face masks.

Pilon believes the public is unaware that the pandemic cannot end if it continues to spread in prisons.

“It’s really important that we look at the solutions to ending this holistically. Prisons are eight of the top 10 hotspots, so people need to care about them,” Pilon said.

As of this week, 20,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 295 have died in prison due to the virus.

 

Susan LaMarca

Written by Susan LaMarca