By Murcel Rahimi
GRAND RAPIDS, MI- With the coronavirus pandemic expanding, many prisons across the nation are working to release eligible incarcerated individuals to prevent the further spread of the virus.
A Michigan clothing brand, Forgive Everyone Co., is releasing a collection and will be donating a portion of its profits to bail out pre-trial detainees.
The spread of COVID-19 has caused many local and state governments to adhere to social distancing measures and shelter-in-place mandates in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, social distancing is impossible in prisons due to overcrowding and poor hygienic standards. Jails are the perfect environment for a massive spread of COVID-19.
“If we’re saying ‘no,’ that those people deserve to stay in there and face this with no resources, no healthcare and complete lack of ability to do any measures of protection, then you’re saying that potentially every single person going into jails right now potentially deserves that death penalty,” said Skyler Rich, Owner and Founder of Forgive Everyone Co.
Rich, a senior at Calvin University, started the company in 2018 to raise awareness and empathy for those who have been incarcerated. On Friday he debuted the shop’s Decarceration collection, in which 20 percent of all profits will be donated to the National Bail Fund Network.
The National Bail Fund Network works with bail funds in all 50 states to counter mass incarceration and reduce harm in the communities in which they operate. The remaining proceeds will go to fund Forgive Everyone Co.’s advocacy efforts, which include criminal justice reform events, storytelling initiatives, and the development of advocacy materials.
Although he has never been incarcerated, Rich says his heart goes out to those behind bars, saying that through his work with former incarcerated people, he knows the dangers they face amid the pandemic.
“It’s incredibly overcrowded, sometimes over 100 beds in one room in some of these mass areas in California, and so it’s really impossible for people to social isolate, social distance or quarantine if it does get in,” Rich said. “Staff is going in and out and so it’s really a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. We’ve already seen it take over Rikers.”
Their new “Decarcerate” collection features three pieces that are designed to promote forgiveness, decarceration, and humanity. It can be found on their website.
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