WILMINGTON, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, following news that a group of 67 men incarcerated at the Sussex Correctional Institution have filed a federal class action suit against the State of Delaware for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the State’s correctional facilities, Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware (CPBD) doubled down on its condemnation of Governor Carney and the State Department of Correction (DOC) mismanagement of the situation – including their failure to proactively provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to inmates.
The class action suit, which demands $400 million in relief for the cruel and unusual punishment the 67 inmates endured, asserts that Governor John Carney should have put safeguards in place to protect Delaware’s prison population. The suit also claims his unwillingness to do so ultimately led to the deaths of 12 inmates and one third of the Sussex Correctional institution testing positive for the virus.
The report is the next chapter in the ongoing fallout of the CPBD’s accepted-then-rejected offer of facemasks and hand sanitizer for inmates earlier this year. In April, the DOC first said they would accept the PPE from CPBD, but ultimately rejected the offer just hours after they had initially accepted it amid reports they would not release prisoners or supply the needed PPE to protect them from COVID-19.
This is not the first display of contention between inmates and Governor Carney’s administration. In 2017 after John Carney took office, the Vaughn Correctional Center was seiged by prisoners and Carney promised to “…bring every resource that we have to sort of this issue.” The uprising, like the current lawsuit, makes the same claims of inhumane treatment of prisoners in Delaware prisons.
“From the earliest days of this crisis, our organization offered enough masks for Delaware’s entire prison population but were denied because our members have the courage to call out injustice and inequity wherever we see it,” said Chris Coffey, campaign manager for Citizens for a Pro Business Delaware. “Although we are as of now unaffiliated with this lawsuit, we support these men in holding the negligent behavior of Governor Carney and the Delaware DOC accountable. It was clear to us from the beginning that Delaware’s inmates did not have access to the protective gear they needed to stay safe, but Governor Carney chose to put politics over people in rejecting our offer. This lawsuit makes clear that that decision jeopardized the health of hundreds of vulnerable inmates and led to seven tragic deaths.”
“Governor Carney and his administration have made it abundantly clear they do not care about the well-being of the inmates in their care, and the damages being sought in this suit will only begin to right the larger injustices that have been obvious for years. We stand by, ready and willing to assist these men in this lawsuit in anyway we can.”
Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware is a group made up of more than 5,000 members including employees of the global translation services company TransPerfect, as well as concerned Delaware residents, business executives and others. They formed in April of 2016 to focus on raising awareness with Delaware residents, elected officials, and other stakeholders about the unprecedented forced sale of TransPerfect. While their primary goal of saving the company has been accomplished, they continue their efforts to fight for more transparency in the Delaware Chancery Court. For more information on Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware or to join the cause, visit DelawareForBusiness.org.