LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – A rally of cars stopped outside of the Columbiana County Jail Wednesday to protest what they say is cruel and unusual treatment of inmates during this pandemic.
The protesters made their voices — and cars — heard, hoping their loved ones inside could hear their honking.
The groups River Valley Voices in Action and UnHarming Ohio staged the drive-by rally in support of the inmates.
“We want to protest the unsafe and unlivable conditions at the Columbiana County Jail,” Kasey Badgley said.
Badgley said they are demanding elected officials in Ohio close for-profit jails, provide hygiene supplies to inmates to stop the spread of COVID-19, and release low-level and short-term inmates.
The protesters say being held in jail for a low-level offense during a pandemic is cruel and unusual punishment.
On Wednesday, they shouted no jail is COVID-safe.
“They’re being kept in close proximities. There are still people sleeping in the bunks and we all know the bunk beds aren’t six feet apart,” Jennifer Boyle said.
As of Monday, no inmates or staff members at the Columbiana County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19.
Badgley compares jails during a virus to a petri dish, saying its spread could have a bigger impact.
“Their health is my health at the end of the day.”
Badgley said it’s a public health problem.
“Their health is the health of families of [corrections officers] who have to go in and out of those facilities all the time.”
Badgley says it shouldn’t matter if someone is in jail — their health and safety is just as important as anyone else’s.
“Nobody deserves to die in prison just because they’ve committed some mistakes in their past.”
A sergeant at the jail said it was a peaceful protest and the groups have a right to speak their minds, but health and safety inside the jail is their top priority.
Protesters still say they won’t stop.
“We want to do this every time,” Boyle said. “We want to grow bigger and bigger, and definitely we want to tackle this issue.”
“This doesn’t end here,” Badgley said. “This is the beginning.”