CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Today the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) joined a national call to halt juvenile detention amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
In a letter to Gov. Jim Justice, ACLU-WV and the National Juvenile Justice Network outlined numerous concerns with continuing to keep some 50,000 minors locked up in crowded, unsanitary conditions.
Research has repeatedly shown that incarcerated populations are among the most at-risk populations during a public health crisis.
The letter urges the governor to publicly share an emergency response plan and to adopt measures to protect youth in the state’s care, including:
- Immediately halting new admissions to juvenile detention
- Removing youth who have COVID-19 symptoms; chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes; other serious illnesses; or who are in need of medical care
- Eliminating any form of detention or incarceration for youth unless a determination is made that a youth is a substantial and safety risk to others