Liberation News screenshot of video of San Juan County Adult Detention Center posted by San Juan County Sheriff’s Office
U.S. presidential candidate Gloria La Riva, who will appear on the ballot in New Mexico and other states on the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s ticket, expresses solidarity with the July 13 uprising at San Juan County jail by prisoners demanding more COVID-19 testing, better health care, and access to adequately nutritious food.
Short clips from inmate video calls during the uprising were released on July 27 and showed one person describing the conditions: “It’s because everybody is getting sick and they keep bringing in people who are sick. They don’t feed us. We’re tired of it! They don’t give no health care … nothing!”
The criminal neglect and abuse of prisoners was the catalyst for the day-long revolt.
Currently, 43 percent of inmates inside San Juan County jail have contracted the virus. When the Navajo Nation, partly in San Juan County, called for an investigation of prison conditions, county officials refused.
Jail administrators have reduced hot meal service to once per day during the pandemic with the shiftless excuse that there are not enough inmates to cook meals. One prisoner told The NM Political Report in July, “Most of the staff that were in the kitchen cooking, the inmates that were cooking, most of them are in here [pods for people who test positive], with COVID themselves.”
Fuel for rebellions, hunger strikes, and resistance
The situation in San Juan County jail is no different than the torturous prison conditions everywhere in the United States. Prisons across the country are overcrowded and filthy, and the people locked inside by the millions are deprived of basic access to nutritious food and health care. Rampant human rights abuses, and now the spread of COVID, are becoming the fuel for rebellions, hunger strikes, and resistance of all kinds behind prison walls, which help shine a light on the abuses that the capitalist state desperately tries to hide.
“I condemn all aspects of the racist prison system! I denounce the politicians who wrote and signed the bills that laid the groundwork for the mass incarceration that has devastated Black, Latino, Native and poor white communities, especially the Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden,” La Riva said.
Biden was quoted in 1993, saying that “every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.” One year later, a grinning Joe Biden sat directly behind President Bill Clinton on the White House lawn as he signed the largest “crime” bill in U.S. history, one that sent incarceration rates into outer space.
La Riva and the Party for Socialism and Liberation call for the immediate release of prisoners at-risk of COVID and a drastic reduction in the prison population.
La Riva says she will continue to support the fight for human rights and dignity for the prisoners at San Juan County jail and the millions of other oppressed and working class people behind bars in the largest prison complex in the world.
End mass incarceration now!