Governor DeWine: Act Now to Release Incarcerated Children of God

Governor DeWine,

You have excelled in taking bold action to protect some Ohioans from COVID-19. For that we thank you and we ask for your continued leadership.

As people of faith, we observe the sacred holidays of Vaisakhi, Passover, Easter and Ramadan with heavy hearts as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. Each of these holidays celebrates community, renewal, service, and liberation from oppression.

In this holy and heavy season, we as people of faith call on you to protect life and practice love of neighbor by dramatically reducing the number of Ohioans who are incarcerated and freeing as many people as possible, whether they be in prison, jail, youth facilities, halfway houses, or immigration detention facilities through early release or reprieve. Refusing to act now, puts the lives and safety of thousands of Ohioans, incarcerated and not, at risk.

We have seen that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts African American and Latinx communities in the United States. These communities are not inherently more susceptible to the virus but racial bias in our justice and healthcare systems causes people to sicken and die. In Ohio, African Americans account for 12% of the general population but 43% of those incarcerated. Three percent of the general population is Latinx but 5% of those incarcerated are. We must act now to stop COVID-19 from disproportionately attacking African American and Latinx communities in Ohio.

We urge Governor DeWine to dramatically reduce Ohio’s prison population by immediately recommending the release of:

  • People with health vulnerabilities
  • People over the age of 60
  • People with six months or less remaining on their sentence
  • People serving time for technical (non-criminal) violation of post-release conditions
  • People serving time for drug-related charges
  • Non-violent offenders
  • Civil immigration detainees
  • Anyone in prison for F4 and F5 offenses.

Additionally, we ask you to ensure that those who remain incarcerated have access to:

  • Free personal hygiene supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves.
  • Free food from the commissary while meals are restricted to twice a day.
  • Free and robust medical care for both COVID-19 and all other medical concerns.

Governor DeWine, we know that your faith is important to you. So we remind you that Easter is not simply a day, it is a way of life. Christians are called to be Easter people in a Good Friday world. They are called to speak life to people and not death. We ask you to do so now.

This pandemic reminds us of the essential truth that our lives are all interconnected. The health of the community and the nation depends upon our acceptance of the moral responsibility to love all of our neighbors, including those who are incarcerated.

Governor, the beloved children of God who are incarcerated in Ohio cannot save themselves alone. They need you. This decision is in your hands.

As people of faith, we join in solidarity and call on you to meet the moral challenge of this catastrophic moment. There is no time for half measures. You must act boldly and now. It is the right thing to do, the just thing to do, and the faithful thing to do.


Faith in Public Life
Dominican Sisters of Peace
Baptist Pastors Conference
Black Women Rising
CAIR-Ohio (Council on American-Islamic Relations)
Community Development for All People
Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS)
Death Penalty Action
The Freedom BLOC
Hunger Network of Ohio
Interfaith Association of Central Ohio (IACO)
IRTF Cleveland: InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia
Ohio Council Of Churches
Ohio Prisoners Justice League
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine
Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio
United Methodist Church for All People
Unity Partnership
Vincentian Ohio Action Network (VOAN)

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