Advancement Project Wins Temporary Restraining Order to Protect the Health of People in Oakland County Jail Ahead of COVID-19 Outbreak
Joshua Garner, 240-326-3874, [email protected]
Jail officials have 10 days to take steps to protect the health of people inside the facility
Oakland County, MI – On April 17, a federal court granted a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed by a group of civil rights and racial justice organizations requiring the Oakland County Jail to follow the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines to protect the health of people locked inside and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted the win in favor of Advancement Project National Office, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU), Civil Rights Corps (CRC), LaRene & Kriger P.L.C. and the Law Firm of Pitt, McGehee, Palmer and Rivers just hours after the group filed the suit, which argues that officials are violating the constitutional rights of people in the jail by exposing them to an unnecessary risk of infection, illness or death during the coronavirus pandemic.
The order requires Oakland County Jail officials to take measures to protect the health and safety of people inside the jail by providing cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, access to medical care, soap, sanitizer, and COVID-19 testing, among other things, within 10 days. The court also ordered that officials not retaliate against plaintiffs including individuals still being held inside the jail.
“This is an incredible first step in protecting the lives of people being held inside Oakland County Jail,” said Krithika Santhanam, Justice Project Staff Attorney at Advancement Project National Office. “The protective measures ordered by the court to safeguard against the risks of COVID-19 are vital to ensuring that a jail sentence doesn’t turn into a death sentence.”
“We know COVID-19 is an existential threat to people locked in jail and now we’ve seen a federal court agree. We filed our case Friday morning and the Court issued its order later that afternoon. While this short turnaround is remarkable, we are going to keep fighting until people are released from the jail and safe at home,” said Thomas Harvey, Justice Project Program Director at Advancement Project.
Advancement Project National Office is working with grassroots organizations as part of its #FreeAndSafe national campaign to shine a light on the country’s reliance on incarceration and get communities to re-imagine public safety. In the case of this legal action, it is important to remember that people are released from jail each and every day to start again in society. This is no different.
Advancement Project National Office, founded in 1999, is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization with a mission to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy.
Michigan Liberation is a statewide network of people and organizations organizing to end the criminalization of Black families and communities of color in Michigan.
ACLU of Michigan, founded in 1959, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights in Michigan.
Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers P.C. is one of the state’s largest and most accomplished plaintiff civil rights and employment law firms specializing in representing individuals whose civil rights have been violated through legal action and social engineering.
LaRene & Kriger P.L.C. is a pre-eminent criminal defense firm in Detroit with a long history of both trial and appellate work in notable and challenging cases.
Civil Rights Corps (CRC) is a nonprofit organization working to end the criminalization of poverty through high impact, innovative, anti-racist civil rights litigation and advocacy.