Congress Must Prioritize Justice Reform in the Next COVID-19 Relief Package

Campaign including radio ads and national town hall highlights pandemic’s impact on incarcerated people

Contact: Rafael Medina, [email protected], 202.869.0390

WASHINGTON—Urging Congress to make policy choices that address the pandemic’s impact on the justice system, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights will launch a series of radio ads tomorrow to underscore the need to protect the health and safety of people in jails, prisons, and detention centers and those who have been released in the next COVID-19 relief bill. The radio ads will run in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

In the United States, 11 of our 15 largest COVID-19 hot spots are correctional facilities. Yet, Congress has failed to heed the calls of medical experts who have made it clear that the only responsible way to address this emergency is to release as many people as possible, but particularly the most vulnerable, from prisons, jails, and detention facilities.

The Leadership Conference and its allies have called for the immediate release of as many people as possible from jails and prisons, for increased funding to protect the health of incarcerated people, as well as for the removal of barriers that prevent people with records from accessing social safety net and other relief programs and critical services upon release.

The radio advertisement can be heard here, and the transcript of the ad is as follows:

Our prisons and jails were overcrowded and unsanitary before COVID-19. Now, the health and safety of incarcerated people, facility staff, and their communities are at an even greater risk. To slow the spread, Congress must act now.

Call 844-325-5900 today and urge your representative to reduce the number of incarcerated people, protect their health, and support successful reentry. 

Paid for by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

As part of the broader campaign, The Leadership Conference, along with other justice reform groups, recently held a virtual townhall to highlight the need for congressional action to protect incarcerated people from the spread of COVID-19.

Participants in the National Town Hall on Justice: A Call to Action included:

Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
Andrea James, Executive Director, The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
Dawn Robinson, family member of incarcerated person
Denisha Jackson, family member of incarcerated person
James Dold, CEO & Founder, Human Rights for Kids
Monifa Bandele, Senior Vice President, MomsRising
Patricia Richmond, Sentencing Resource Counsel, Federal and Community Defenders
Richard Wallace, Founder, Equity and Transformation (EAT)

A replay of the town hall is available here.

Media requests for any of the participants (or radio ads) can be directed to [email protected]

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit