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Show Up For People in Erie County Jails Now
If our officials won’t take care of people, we must.
Contribute to this campaign to put funds on the commissaries of prisoners in the custody of Erie County jails, who urgently need assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. Your contribution will allow those in custody to call their loved ones and attorneys, and access soap, pre-wrapped food, and other basic needs.
People incarcerated in Erie County are at elevated risk for contracting COVID-19 due to the conditions in county jails. Advocates, activists, experts from various fields, directly impacted people, and community members across the United States are calling for people to be released from jails and prisons in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Erie County, dangerous and deadly conditions in our jails are not new concerns for us. At least 30 people have died in the jails under the tenure of current Sheriff Timothy Howard. He cannot be trusted to care for peoples’ lives under everyday conditions, let alone during the worst public health pandemic of our lifetime. Guards in the facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 and prisoners are not being tested. Additionally, people in Erie County jails are no longer allowed to receive visitors, so they must use their commissary funds to make phone calls, now their only source of contact with those outside.
County, city, and state leaders of all positions have made no
real steps to release people from all of the recommended groups
(people who have compromised immune systems, are older than 60, have
under 6 months left on their sentences, are serving time for
technical violations or immigration concerns, etc.). Show up
for them through supporting this effort and demand their release.
We have met our stretch goal of $8000 total! This will enable us to provide commissary funds to every person incarcerated by Erie County! We are so grateful to everyone who is showing up to support incarcerated people during this pandemic. We are continuing to raise money, and additional funds will be transferred to our partner organization Black Love Resists in the Rust, to support their work providing aid for people released from the Erie County jails.
How Funds Will Be Distributed
Our goal is to raise enough money to put $15 on the commissary accounts of each person incarcerated in Erie County. This money can be used for critical and urgent needs such as soap, pre-wrapped food, cleaning supplies, and phone calls. This money may also be used to pay any fees or surcharges applied by the Erie County Sheriff's Office for commissary donations.
- If we meet our first goal of $4500, we can do this for every person in the Erie County Holding Center in downtown Buffalo.*
- If we meet our second goal of an additional $3500 ($8000 total), we can also do this for every person in the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.*
- *The exact number of people incarcerated in these facilities changes regularly. We base our estimates off of the latest "inmate roster" from the Erie County Sheriff's Office.
- Any additional funds raised will be given to Black Love Resists in the Rust, to support their work creating care packages for people released from the Erie County jails.
What Happens to Commissary Funds When an Individual is Released?
If a person is released before they spend all of their commissary funds, the money is given to them as cash to help them with their immediate needs.
What if People are Released Before This Fundraiser Ends?
SURJ Buffalo believes that releasing incarcerated people is the best way to protect them from COVID-19. If we get the news that many or all people have been released before the end of this fundraiser, we will distribute any excess funds donated to Black Love Resists in the Rust.
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