A MASSIVE COVID outbreak has been reported in the Alamance County Jail.
Because of the malignant negligence of our county leadership, every resident of Alamance County has been put at risk.
The Alamance County Jail is now the center of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in any North Carolina correctional facility with more than 120 confirmed cases among inmates and staff. This represents the single largest COVID cluster in Alamance County to date. It is too early to know how many lives will be shortened as a result, but one thing is clear: this outbreak should and could have been prevented.
While Sheriff Terry Johnson must bear the immediate blame for this catastrophic failure of leadership, the Alamance County Commission is more than complicit. For years, the Commissioners have served as a rubber stamp for the Sheriff’s frivolous jail expansion proposals, have spent public money to defend him when his racist policing invited lawsuits, and have cheered his cruel and pointless roundups of immigrants.
During the pandemic, the Commissioners shrugged when Sherriff Johnson flouted NC Department of Health orders to shut down dangerous gatherings at Ace Speedway. They looked the other way as the Sheriff and his deputies jeopardized the public health by showing up at public gatherings without protective face masks repeatedly, up to and including this week.
Sheriff Johnson’s incompetence has predictably compromised the health of Alamance county residents, but our County Commissioners appear to have no plan to investigate the causes of this current outbreak, or to take any meaningful precaution to protect the public from further exposure. Instead, we can expect more of the leadership style the Alamance County Commission is best known for: dereliction of duty, racist dog whistles, and a disdain for their own constituents.
Instead of insisting on an investigation and actively righting this wrong, the County Commissioners are asking their constituents to take the Sheriff at his word that his deputies are going to start following safety protocols, despite statements from recent inmates indicating that practices at the jail are falling short of guidelines meant to protect public health.
Alamance County deserves REAL leadership. Thankfully, we have a chance to vote for new and better representation this November. County Commission candidates Dreama Caldwell and Kristen Powers both have a record of leadership on the very issues at the center of the county jail’s COVID disaster. Both Caldwell and Powers are strong advocates for bail reform in Alamance County, and were instrumental in launching Down Home NC’s Community Bail Fund. In the month before this latest outbreak, the bail fund freed eight low income people who might otherwise have contracted COVID while stuck in jail for nothing more than the inability to pay.
Under Dreama and Kristen’s leadership, many of the inmates sickened in the recent outbreak would not have been exposed, because they would not have been stuck in jail because they are poor, awaiting trial on minor offenses. This would have lowered the jail population, decreasing the risk of a catastrophic outbreak.
We can not risk continuing with ineffective and irresponsible leadership in Alamance County– lives are at stake. That’s why Down Home Alamance members voted to endorse Dreama Caldwell and Kristen Powers for County Commissioner. We will be voting for them November 3rd and we hope you will too. Learn more about Dreama and Kristen and all our endorsed candidates here.
Here’s how you can make sure that Alamance County get’s the leadership we deserve:
- JOIN Down Home NC’s Relational Voter Program. It’s easy, fun, and super-effective , and it’s key to winning the elections in November. This is the best and most important thing you can do to help elect Dreama and Kristen.
- TAKE ACTION to demand accountability and call for new leadership at the County Commission. Join Down Home and our allies in protest at the September 21st County Commission meeting in Graham, 7pm at 124 W. Elm Street.