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Protesters outside Indiana Women's Prison advocate for prisoners during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:34 AM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 10:34:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Protesters led a procession of cars Saturday around the Indiana Women's Prison on the west side of Indianapolis and said they want inmates with less than a year remaining on their sentences to be released due to concerns over unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, 154 inmates at the women's prison are in quarantine and 14 have tested positive for the coronavirus, while at all prisons across Indiana, 129 staff members and 285 offenders have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and two inmates and one staff member have died.

"We decided to start here with the women's prison," Kwame Shakur, deputy director of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, said. "A lot of times women's issues are minimized and not spoken about. We wanted to stand with the women. When we say free them all, we are also talking about our women locked up in these prisons as well.

In a statement to RTV6, IDOC said they don't have the authority to grant early release offenders. Only a court may order a sentence modification.

Demonstrators also called on Marion County judges to release elderly people and those with underlying conditions.