Open Letter to Dallas County Commissioners, Sheriffs Office, and Judges
We write in support of the Dallas County Jail inmates who filed a lawsuit to secure freedom and safety for all inmates older than 50, as well as those with underlying health conditions that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
This weekend, beginning with Good Friday and ending on Easter Sunday, is the most holy weekend in our Christian tradition. It is a time that we remember Jesus’ execution at the hands of the state for the crime of speaking truth to power and his subsequent burial and resurrection into freedom and hope for all humanity. It is this weekend that demands our examination of who we must free from the cruel and unusual abuse of a criminal punishment system that would rather leave our sisters and brothers in the tombs.
So on this Good Friday, we are calling for our county officials to examine themselves by asking the question, “Will we be helpers of humanity, or protectors of punishment?" This question should not and cannot simply be limited to the consideration of the nine inmates at highest risk, or the 29 who have tested positive for COVID-19 to date. It’s about the well-being of the 6000 plus inmates, staff and contractors who are being put at considerable undue risk of contracting this deadly virus; a virus that has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives around the world, and will claim even more despite our best efforts. There is no argument from health officials - and common sense advocates - that we must do everything in our considerable power to stop the spread of this disease devastating human lives and families. Our incarcerated sisters and brothers and those who serve both them and us, can no longer be the exception to these humanitarian efforts.
We believe the County Commissioners, Sheriffs Office and our Judges (along with others) all have a part to play in this system; a system that deprives all who enter the jailhouse of their inherent value and the promise of the resurrection. Many of whom share our beliefs and convictions. We implore them to do all in their power to protect the lives of those housed in the jail. This includes releasing those who have tested positive for COVID-19, into the care of hospitals separate from the confines of a punishment system that has proven itself to have taken inadequate measures in combating the spread of this plague.
So we ask once again, Dallas County will we leave our sisters and brothers in the tombs?
Our Hope and Faith in the Resurrection DEMANDS but one answer.
In the Hope of Resurrection,
Dallas Black Clergy