Last week, incarcerated people at Androscoggin County Jail took part in a hunger strike to protest their unsafe conditions and demand the implementation of COVID-19 testing. Eight months into this global pandemic, our correctional leaders have clearly failed to protect those in their custody from this potentially fatal virus.

Why were incarcerated people not getting tested for COVID-19 immediately upon entering the facility? Why is it that when incarcerated people want to have their voices heard or changes made they must put their own lives in danger?

The action of a hunger strike by incarcerated people is a cry for help for the state to figure out what is going on within those walls. It should not take a hunger strike in the midst of a pandemic for correctional leaders to implement key safety standards and protect people in custody.

The strike was quickly concluded when the sheriff approving mass testing. However, the initial lack of action is unacceptable, and those with decision-making power over ACJ, including the sheriff, must be held accountable and do more to protect those behind bars.

As COVID-19 forces our cities to restrict their budgets, our government must prioritize helping people currently incarcerated, including decarcerating eligible people, supplying personal protective equipment for staff and those inside, and continuing to implement mass testing.

Abukar Abdi, Lewiston

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.