Dozens of cars rallied outside the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) Sunday afternoon in memory of Jose Franco, who died in the custody of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) on February 9. The rally was also in solidarity with those currently incarcerated in prison and their loved ones, who are facing the direct impact of the devastating, deadly, and completely preventable coronavirus outbreaks in corrections facilities throughout Rhode Island.
This is the latest attempt in a nearly year long campaign to get the administration to take action, and is being organized by Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)’s Behind the Walls Committee, a committee made up of formerly incarcerated people and the loved ones of incarcerated people; Black and Pink Providence; Formerly Incarcerated Union of Rhode Island; Never Again Action Rhode Island, and community members as part of the RI COVID Response: Decarcerate NOW campaign.
The organizers have released the following statement:
“Last week, Jose Franco passed away in RIDOC custody. He was incarcerated in the Medium Security facility and found dead in his bed, after a correctional officer (CO) failed to make the rounds. We do not know how Jose passed, but he was young – only in his forties.
“Jose passed less than a month after Timothy McQuesten, who died in the Intake facility. At his arraignment Timothy expressed concern that he was missing his antipsychotic medication. He was placed on crisis status, which required COs to perform more regular checks. They failed to do this and he took his own life. A CO has since been put on paid administrative leave.
“Jose is the fourth incarcerated person to die in RIDOC custody since December 2020. Prison is a place that destroys human beings’ mental and physical health. The medical care is substandard and the staff are abusive. Every week we hear from loved ones who are being deliberately placed in unsafe conditions, denied life sustaining medications, and subject to physical and emotional humiliation on a daily basis. Since COVID began, incarcerated people have not had one in-person visit with loved ones and are kept in cells for over 23 hours a day, without access to the outdoors.
“Prison is not rehabilitative and our injustice system ensures that even once people leave, their record (and often debilitating fees and court debt) will follow them when they apply for housing, jobs, school – making it much more likely that they’ll be reincarcerated. As Angela Davis says: ‘Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.’“
To follow the campaign, you can follow the facebook page, RI COVID Response: Decarcerate NOW and text “RESPONSE” to 94502.