Earlier this year, Disability Rights Arkansas joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU of Arkansas, and the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs to file a lawsuit against Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Corrections officials on behalf of Arkansas state prisoners over the inadequate measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the prisons. The virus has spread illness and caused numerous deaths at state correctional facilities. Prisoners, including the plaintiffs in this case, are disproportionately Black and have significantly higher rates of serious medical conditions, like heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes that make them especially vulnerable to severe illness or death from the virus. The lawsuit alleges that the outbreak in the prisons was made exponentially worse by the failure of state officials to conduct adequate testing and to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control – failing to provide masks and other personal protective equipment, access to soap and sanitizer, and cleaning products. This, combined with the inability of inmates to socially distance, has been a recipe for disaster in Arkansas prisons.

Tonight on Speak Up Arkansas, we will be speaking to the lawyers who are fighting to protect the civil rights of Arkansas prisoners, and we’ll be joined by some of the families who have been personally impacted by the outbreak. The show will air tonight at 5:00 p.m. on KABF 88.3 FM. You can livestream the program at kabf.org. And as always, you’ll find the recording of the show on our website at disabilityrightsAR.org/Speak-Up-Arkansas. This is Show #9.

Tonight’s guests include DRA attorney Cristy Park; Omavi Shukur, attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF); and Sarah Everett, attorney with the ACLU of Arkansas.

We also have with us several former inmates and family members who were gracious enough to join us to tell their stories: Randi Harper, whose father Randy Hobbs is currently incarcerated in the Medical Unit at the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern; Michael Wiggins, who was recently released from the East Arkansas Correctional Unit; Audrey Brown, whose son Damion Brown is currently incarcerated at Cummins; Austin Mitchell, who was incarcerated at the Central Arkansas Community Correctional Facility; and Dana and Shana Wilson, family members of inmates Arthur and Lamarr Brown. We are deeply  grateful to all of these guests for coming on this evening to speak with us.

SHOW NOTES:

If you are a family member with information about a loved one who is incarcerated, and need to speak with someone about this case, you can contact NAACP-LDF toll-free 1-833-523-0354. You’ll be prompted to leave certain information about the incarcerated individual, and a volunteer with LDF will call you back.

The petition for the clemency of Arthur and Lamarr Davis, referenced by Dana and Shana Wilson during tonight’s show, can be found here: https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/justicefordavisbrothers-governor-asa-hutchinson-must-grant-time-cut-clemency-now?source=facebook-share-button&time=1591062780&utm_source=facebook&share=7fdabcd9-9b1b-4e49-aa3c-31afc1371567&fbclid=IwAR0UWyiruvrrsWFo4JOyXXW9FX5SOgXw6tshSYReEZJg0_5aEaqSTy6xjSo