The ACLU of Indiana, The Bail Project, Indiana Black Expo, Immigrant Welcome Center, Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch 3053, Public Advocates in Community re-Entry, Inc., RecycleForce, and Indianapolis Urban League, Monday, sent a letter to Governor Holcomb, offering recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to particularly vulnerable Hoosiers, including individuals who are incarcerated.
According to the letter, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected certain vulnerable communities, with significantly higher rates of infection, serious illness, and death among people living in congregate care settings, those incarcerated in prisons, jails, and immigration detention, and—at a broader level—people in communities of color.
The letter states that Indiana’s vaccine-distribution plan cannot be considered fair or equitable if it does not take into account, and attempt to redress, the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on these at-risk communities. The organizations are requesting that decisions regarding which populations are prioritized be made via a transparent, evidence-based, and impartial process that includes input from these impacted communities.
“In Indiana alone, incarcerated individuals have a COVID-19 infection rate that is 83% higher than the state’s infection rate as a whole,” said Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. “Individuals living in carceral settings have higher rates of disability and chronic health issues, and often lack adequate nutrition, health care, access to fresh air, and proper hygiene measures. Making vaccines available to incarcerated people is an important step towards containing COVID-19 inside and outside of these facilities and providing constitutionally mandated medical care.”