The Justice and Equity Team of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara has sent the following message to the Santa Barbara Public Health Department Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, and Congressmember Salud Carbajal:
We are mindful that Public Health faces the monumental task of coordinating a number of factors related to COVID-19 immunizations in the county and the priority of delivery, including the timing and quantity of vaccine supplies, personnel and logistics to administer them, and assessments of relative risks of different populations and individuals. Looking at the most recent Phase and Tier plans for vaccination, we have noticed that incarcerated individuals are listed in Phase 1B, Tier 2 as members of populations in “Congregate settings with outbreak risk,” along with the homeless population, instead of in a higher tier with those in other residential facilities.
While some health-care workers in prison and jail hospitals and clinics are included in an earlier tier, we urge that those who are incarcerated be included on earlier tiers as well, because, similar to residents of group facilities outside the jails and prisons, they may not have the choice or ability to isolate or distance. We believe that compassion and common sense demand the recognition that any sentences these individuals are currently serving must not include compulsory exposure to a potentially deadly infection.
In addition, we are reminded that the coronavirus does not respect the boundaries of walls or bars. The staff of incarceration facilities and their families are in danger when the residents to those facilities are in danger. Risk further extends to the entire community through the staff members and their families to all those who come into contact with them, such as retail workers and teachers (Phase 1B, Tier 1).
We urge that those who are incarcerated be included in earlier tiers as well, for the protection of all.
The Justice and Equity Team of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara:
Reverend Julia Hamilton
Dr. Rachel Aarons
Patricia Reilly Stark