America holds the shameful distinction of having the largest incarcerated population in the world. Twenty-five percent of the people confined anywhere are confined in prisons throughout America — 2.3 million, with another 7 million citizens on various forms of judicial supervision. Despite these staggering numbers, America hasn’t confined parts of itself into being the safest place in the world.

The incarcerated population potentially will be one of the greatest sectors of citizens impacted by COVID-19. Tens of thousands of Americans have been infected by COVID-19, reportedly 21 residents and 12 staffers at New York City jails (the largest outbreak behind bars to date). Nearly half the reported confirmed COVID-19 cases are in the New York area.

New York and other jurisdictions have taken or initiated measures to release some confined citizens from jails. To flatten the curve, it seems state and federal prisons will need to take similar proactive measures.

On Wednesday, #cut50 hosted along with numerous community partners a national Day of Empathy

Hopefully, in the days moving forward, America will not forget its incarcerated citizens.

As human beings, these citizens deserve our compassion and empathy. Compassion and empathy aren’t about a “hug a thug” approach. It’s about the recognition that people/citizens are human beings. I hope the Day of Empathy will assist us in collectively focusing on empathy and continuing a conversation each day regarding justice in America.

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