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Common brings attention to COVID-19 in prisons with We Matter Too campaign

His movement advocates for the early release of inmates amidst the pandemic.

Common Shutterstock

In response to the ongoing pandemic’s affect on jail and prison inmates, Common has launched a new campaign called We Matter Too through his criminal justice reform organization, Imagine Justice. The Grammy Award-winning rapper and activist has partnered with over 70 organizations and advocacy groups to urge authorities to immediately release inmates who have served the majority of their sentences and have pre-existing health conditions.

“It’s a troubling time for them because they are the people who usually are overlooked,” Common told the Associated Press on Wednesday (May 13).

Although thousands of prisoners have already been released from prisons and jails in the wake of COVID-19, Common’s campaign also calls for the government to provide Coronavirus testing and housing for newly freed individuals.

Associated Press reports that Common became concerned about the pandemic’s affect on inmates after regularly meeting with incarcerated people around the country with his Imagine Justice organization.

“We all have unanswered questions about the pandemic, but being in prison adds new levels to that questioning because of the way that people have been treated in prison,” he explained. “Some of the strongest people I’ve ever met are in prison. I believe we can come out of this greater than we were before.”

On Wednesday (May 13), Common shared the We Matter Too short film on Instagram. The two-minute clip is narrated by several inmates, who say they’re not being provided protective gear, soap or timely medical care. The individuals also note how close together phone stalls and bunks are and reveal that shared showers are cleaned by staff once a day, if at all.

“Let this time show us that we are all interconnected,” Common wrote in the video’s caption. “We have to be there for our vulnerable communities including our people who are currently incarcerated. Our fates are tied together so we must be courageous and act now. I’m proud to launch #WeMatterToo today alongside 70+ organizations who have dedicated their time and energy to supporting our brothers and sisters currently in prisons, jails and detention centers around the country during this scary and uncertain time. Every single life matters.”

According to the Associated Press, last month the US Bureau of Prisons reported that 70 percent of the inmates held in federal custody who were tested for Coronavirus were diagnosed with the disease.

See the We Matter Too video below.

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