Ep. 214 - Congress needs to end their recess and get back to work - even if remotely.
Right now as we suffer through the corona virus pandemic United States Congress the people we've elected to represent us. They're in recess which is preposterous. All by itself. They need to be able to get back to work the past all the legislation that we need so we can continue to do what we do as everyday Americans but not only are they in recess. Yesterday the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi suggested that they might extend the recess which is ridiculous hundreds of millions of people billions of people around the world are working remotely and Congress needs to do the very same thing today. Let me unpack and explain that a very important update to give you on prisons and jails in California while California's more than a lot of states to be back. The Corona virus they haven't done nearly enough in jails and prisons. This is Shaun King. You're listening to the the the breakdown of the breakdown of the breakdown. Yesterday as we learned that nearly seventeen million Americans have now lost their jobs over these past three weeks. I said the blame. For how little support they have received fall square on the heads of both Democrats and Republicans. But this morning I saw something that truly made my blood boil speaker of the house. Nancy Pelosi says she might not even bring Congress back in session after the recess that they're currently on. It's like what you're not gonNA bring people back into session. You're going to extend the recess. It's like are you. Serious is already outrageous that they're not in session right now in the middle of a global pandemic where the United States is the epicenter of it. All but for her to say they might not even return. When this recesses over is unthinkable congress is supposed to represent the people and the people are hurting. The people are struggling. People Are Hungry and homeless. People Are Afraid. Color me stupid but why did? I assume that Congress would actually have a plan in place for how to do their work if the nation was ever in an emergency situation. Like what we're in right now. I just assumed they'd know how to handle this. Every student in America right now from kindergarten through college all five of my children are going to school remotely over one hundred million Americans are working remotely right now and we're all winging it as I record this. I'm in the living room of my house in my entire family has to be quiet because I'm trying to record the podcast. I'm winging it over this past month. Congress should have already figured out how they can properly govern themselves remotely. Local governments are doing it all over the country. They don't have a choice. What I guess shocks me is that Nancy Pelosi. Thought Congress had a choice. This is a nationally. -mergency it requires national action but because Congress is literally am I right now. It's allowed Donald Trump to fill the gap in really be the lone voice of authority each and every day. This is not just bad for appearances. It's bad for the actual problems. We're facing what in the hell did. We elect these people for if not to represent our interest in a national emergency if Congress and I mean this sincerely if they had just asked zoom or Google a month ago to create a secure top secret way for them to be in session together. It would have been done in days if not hours. Zoom in Google probably already has something like that in place for themselves as I think this out loud ideas for how to organize and manage such thing already come into my mind. A few smart people could have put this in place already. They could have found a way to televise. Congress even if it was just televising the zoom so everyday people could see that Congress actually cares and is fighting further instead. It's basically crickets nothing complete silence. Yes many Congress people including people I love and admire are doing events of their own but when you see them doing the people's work and here's what I know they're still getting paid their direct deposits. Keep on hitting their their checking accounts. They hadn't lost their health insurance or benefits. And maybe that's why they're not in a hurry to figure this out for the rest of us they're taking care of while the rest of US wonder if we're GONNA be evicted or have our utilities cut off soon. We're worried about whether or not our insurance is going to run out in on April twentieth when Congress is supposed to be back in session. It's perfectly fine if they don't all fly to DC. But they at least need to be in a remote session on zoom or Google or something custom in anything less than that is a slap in the face to the entire country to put want to tell you about a man named Bruce Wayne Roden he sixty one years old is in poor health. He has several pre existing medical conditions including both diabetes and HIV. He needs daily insulin shots and antivirals to survive about a month ago just as the corona virus pandemic really began to hit the country road in was crammed into California's Wasco State Prison located about thirty miles outside of Bakersfield. His wife recently told The Guardian that she worries. He'll be among the first to die if the corona virus breaks out at the prison and her fear is understandable and not at all unique one in seven people. Inside of California's prisons is over. The age of fifty five and thirty seven percent of the prison population has at least one risk factor for severe illness from the corona virus. That's over forty four thousand people in keeping these people inside of our jails and prisons doesn't make us safer. We're talking about releasing folks who face a higher risk of dying in confinement than of causing harm outside in the face of this pandemic it actually poses a direct threat to public safety by putting everyone at a higher risk of contracting the corona virus. These people including Bruce are sick and frail. Many of them are elders. They've long since aged out of whatever criminal behavior that they previously committed and that's according to research and for those who are already scheduled to be released from prison in the coming year would a few more months behind bars. Really have an effect on their potential risks to the community. You're telling me if somebody is served ten years fifteen years twenty years and they have less than twelve months. You can't release them now. Releasing these individuals these men and women all over California should be the obvious solution in order to create less crowded less infectious conditions. In California's prisons new polling shows the Californians of both parties agree in Governor newsome who I know and love and respect. He has become a friend of mine over the past few years. He needs to listen to his State's voters and the advice of countless experts in change course immediately and I fear that if he doesn't take action the people of California both inside and outside of Prison. They are going to pay the price. Let me break it breaks break break down. There is a brewing crisis in California's overcrowded prisons. Where Corona virus represents a particularly lethal threat to state detention facilities? Listen these prisons in jails are packed. All over California. They continue to operate. Listen to me at nearly a hundred and forty percent over capacity despite a federal court ruling more than a decade ago finding the conditions in California's jails and prisons unconstitutional in normal times. This environment already presents a clear threat to the incarcerated population. But you add in a highly contagious pathogen. Like the corona virus in these facilities have literally become ticking time bombs were already seeing it in jails and prisons in New York and Chicago in Louisiana. And they're not just ticking time bombs for the incarcerated men and women either but for the communities that surround them. If you've been listening to the breakdown then you've heard me talk about. The effect of the corona virus on our mass incarceration system prisons in jails are designed to serve as warehouses for human bodies in California has some of the nation's most overloaded warehouses. That's all they are. There's no space for social distancing in any of these facilities and there's no access to personal protective equipment or the hygiene products necessary to try to combat the contagion people are crammed into bunk beds and there are often only five toilets per one hundred person. Wars five toilets for every one hundred people. That's why we have to do everything we can to try to get a handle on this crisis now before it's too late. California Governor Gavin Newsom has received some credit for his decisive action to implement a stay at home order in March which experts say likely slow the spread of the corona virus. All over California and I applaud him for that but he has not acted with the same urgency to protect the state's massive incarcerated population from the virus. Which again is a failure? That's going to cost. Lives all over the state. Although newsom has broad executive power to release people he s specifically rejected that idea even as he continues to talk about his commitment to helping people most in need. He has announced some vague plans to accelerate release and parole dates for about thirty five hundred people in prison but so far. The governor has moved super slow on this in even if he does eventually hit this number. That thirty five hundred number is a drop in the bucket which fails to substantially really address overcrowding in it ignores many of the people behind bars who faced the most severe threat from the corona virus with the stroke of his pen. California Governor Gavin Newsom. Right now could release. Thousands of the state's most vulnerable incarcerated men and women back into parole or community supervision. Where they could be spared serious illness or potential. Death sentence from the corona virus and advocates have urged him to exercise this authority particularly to protect those who are elderly or have pre existing medical conditions. That put them at a higher risk or to release those who already are scheduled to be released in the next year. Doctors have echoed this call so have public health. Experts in. This isn't just about criminal. Justice reform is about following basic medical advice in protecting the health of Californians both inside and outside of prison walls. I'm thankful for one of my favorite organizations in the country. The justice collaborative because there's some new polling from the Justice Collaborative Institute and data for progress. That shows this isn't just the right thing to do. It's popular with voters all over California fifty eight percent of Californians including a majority of Republicans support releasing anyone charged with an offence. That doesn't involve a serious physical safety risk to the community. Sixty one percent including fifty five percent of Republicans support releasing elderly incarcerated people fifty six percents of people in California support releasing people who have medical conditions that place them at a higher risk in fifty five percent more support releasing people who have fewer than twelve months remaining on their sentence. It's what we need to do. Listen I know it's hard fight for other people when you're fighting for yourself right now. We need all hands on deck to let Governor Gavin. Newsom a good man to let him understand that he needs to do more to get ahead of this problem in California's jails and prisons in just the last two weeks. The statewide number of confirmed cases of the corona virus among prison staff and incarcerated. People jumped from two people to eighty in considering the lack of access to testing in the ability of the corona virus to spread among people before they really have even any idea of their infected. This number is likely going to get much higher and is going to rise each and every day. So they're just two things that I'd like you to do when you get a chance. I'd like you to write a polite tweet to Governor Gavin newsom. Here's his handle. Act Gavin G. A. V. I. N. newsome is in E W S M. It doesn't have an E. On the end G V I N N E W S O M. Send him a tweet there or you can also send him a tweet. See a governor at governor or at Gavin NEWSOM and ask him to do more to let Californians out of jail and prison if they're they're on technical violations if they have less than twelve months on their sentence if they have pre existing conditions if they are among the super elderly let him know that he can do this in the final thing. Is this if you just google the name Governor Gavin Newsom or if you type in? Here's an even better way to do it. If you type into Google contact Gavin newsom. The first result is going to be a contact form. Can you please send a personal email to the governor letting him know what we've talked about in asking him politely to step up and do more break it the number bring them and bring the bring bringing in the brake brake brake brake brake brake? Brake brake break.