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Coalition asks governor to grant clemency to older prison inmates

A coalition of people with family members in jail joined public health experts and others to release what they call a series of "COVID-19 Community Demands for People in State Prisons."

They want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to grant clemency to older prisoners and those who are vulnerable to the coronavirus. Dave George, from the group Release Aging People from Prison, says health experts agree that correctional environments are hotbeds for the virus.

“Social distancing is impossible,” George said. “Medical care is substandard and in some instances non-existent.  The only way that we can truly and comprehensively tackle this virus according to the experts in fields of medicine and public health is to release people.”

Michelle Lind’s husband, Robert, is incarcerated and, at age 73, he has been undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Lind says her husband’s clemency application has been sitting on Cuomo’s desk since 2016.

“Robert needs to be here, so we can sit and go through this together,” she said. “Don't let my husband die. Please don't let my husband die.”

Advocates are also calling on the State Parole Board to release people vulnerable to coronavirus and expedite parole interviews for those eligible who are vulnerable.

Cuomo did authorize the release of 1,100 prisoners over the weekend, but reportedly said at the time there were no plans to extend the prison release.