No one could have predicted how this year would go. The global COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people in the United States, and 10 months in, we’re still adapting to new ways of living.
Now, we’re approaching the holidays and many of us have found safe ways to connect with our loved ones virtually. But, for incarcerated people, the isolation they experience will only be heightened.
For the last several months, currently incarcerated people have been denied access to visitors, their educational and personal development programs have been halted, and they’ve even seen their phone and email access be restricted. This means fathers, mothers, siblings and friends have lost the few pathways to connection with their loved ones they had to begin with.
Incarcerated people have lost the life-sustaining avenues for communication and connection to their loved ones while watching their friends, cellmates, and even themselves fall victim to COVID-19. In fact, when compared with the general population, the number of COVID-19 cases is 5.5 times higher among people who are incarcerated.
This is a time when incarcerated folks need to feel that they have a community of people on the outside who are thinking of them, and who are invested in their growth and safety.
That’s why we at Represent Justice have chosen to partner with Flikshop to send holiday cards to 25,000 currently incarcerated people in the U.S. this December. Flikshop, an organization dedicated to keeping incarcerated folks connected to their family and friends through mail, was founded by Marcus Bullock. At 15, Marcus was incarcerated and spent 8 years in adult maximum security prisons. While he was inside, receiving letters and photos from his mother meant the world to him, and now with Flikshop he aims to spread the same sense of hope and support, and reduce recidivism in the process.
In the U.S. more than 40 of the 50 largest clustered outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred in jails and prisons. While it’s crucial to protect the physical health of people who are currently incarcerated and trying to survive the pandemic, we also need to support their mental health as well.
Our cards — featuring a design by Represent Justice Ambassador Fernando Bermudez — are meant to inspire a bit of hope in a dark time, a reminder that while they may be away from their loved ones, they are not alone.
If you’d like, you can help us spread some holiday cheer to people in prisons here.