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News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 25, 2020

Contact: Heather Cabral | heather@westendstrategy.org | 202-550-6880

Erin Williams | ewilliams@faithinaction.org | 202-748-0699

ORLANDO, Fla. — In response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing indecision regarding COVID-19, Faith in Florida is calling on him to release inmates with minor and non-threatening criminal charges in an effort to curb the spread of this virus. As of today, Florida has more than 1500 residents that are infected with the virus — and these numbers are rapidly growing. Last week, Faith in Florida issued a statement to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, bringing to light the abysmal conditions of the facilities he presides over, including intense overcrowding that forces incarcerated individuals to sleep on the floor. 

“This is a virus that every single person, regardless of any past circumstances, must take seriously,” said Faith in Florida executive director Pastor Rhonda Thomas. “Many people are behind bars now because they couldn’t make bail. It is a known fact that detention and prison facilities do not have the space and medical resources to handle this, and if a person is being detained for a minor offense, they need to be released. This is a situation that calls for us valuing the welfare of all Floridians over any past judgement and doing what is best for the state. We can’t fall prey to this virus because of hubris. The governor must step in and make this measure happen.” 

“We need the leadership of our governor to implement this practice across the state so that people who are not a threat may be released to their families, and simultaneously we can ensure they are out of an environment where their health and well being is in danger,” said Faith in Florida deputy director Nanci Palacios. “We have all seen how the president’s inaction has led to this crisis; our governor has the power to take a different path and be an example of selflessness that the state and country can follow.”

Last week, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced that her office is making a plan to release people who have been jailed for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. As well, New Jersey just announced that they were releasing up to 1,000 inmates from county jails, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio has released over 200 prisoners in order to curb the spread. 

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About Faith in Florida: The mission of Faith in Florida is to build a powerful multicultural nonpartisan network of congregation community organizations in Florida that will address systemic racial and economic issues that cause poverty for our families.  With multiple different religious denominations and faith traditions represented, Faith in Florida seeks to provide a prophetic, interfaith voice on civil rights restoration, immigration, and healthcare expansion.

Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information, visit www.faithinaction.org. Faith in Action is a 501c(3). Faith in Action and its affiliates are non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.

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