Nationwide effort to free all inmates and detainees from custody underway

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The American Friends Service Committee wants all people held in prisons, jails and detention centers to be released from custody.

It’s part of the nationwide effort to “Free Them All.”

“We need a transformative and restorative justice system to reduce harm, and incarcerating
people, especially where profits drive policy, is the opposite of that,” said Pedro Rios, director of AFSC. “Our call to free them all is centered on the principle that all people deserve a dignified life, where we nurture life instead of traumatizing it with incarceration.”

Pedro Rios is the Director of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

There are 2.3 million people in the country currently being held, Rios said.

“They are subject to civil and human rights violations and a lack of access to adequate health care,” he said.

Rios stated that now more than ever, due to COVID-19, people should not be held behind bars, especially those held on immigration charges.

“With the pandemic, the dangers of imprisonment have multiplied exponentially, making every detention a potential death sentence,” he said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said that since the pandemic began March, it has been working with medical professionals, disease control specialists, detention experts, and field operators to identify additional enhanced steps to minimize the spread of the virus.

“ICE has since evaluated its detained population based upon the CDC’s guidance for people who might be at higher risk for severe illness as a result of COVID-19 to determine whether continued detention was appropriate,” according to the agency’s website, adding that it has released over 900 individuals after evaluating their immigration history, criminal record, potential threat to public safety, flight risk, and national security concerns. 

People drove through Downtown San Diego with “Free Them All” signs on their cars. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

The “Free Them All” is one of many events scheduled for the week to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the Attica uprising, when more than 2,000 people incarcerated in upstate New York took over the correctional facility demanding freedom, wages, access to education access and more.

“This is a system that imprisons people for profit and doesn’t allow people to live out their full humanity, now more than ever it’s time to see how we look at incarceration and reconsider whether it really works for our society or not,” said Rios.

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