Dear friends of EPI,
We hope that this letter finds you and yours well.
We are writing with an update on how Covid-19 has impacted the Emerson Prison Initiative.
On Wednesday, March 11, the Massachusetts Department of Correction temporarily suspended all volunteer programs, which includes faculty and tutors entering to teach and facilitate EPI courses. Prior to this, we worked with our faculty to put into place contingency plans so that our students can continue to complete their coursework together, and individually, based on detailed faculty instructions. We heard that during the week when faculty couldn’t enter the facility, EPI students were comporting themselves as scholars, meeting together, electing rotating facilitators, taking class minutes, and taking their courses as seriously as ever. We are proud of their resilience and have let them know that as soon as faculty are allowed to re-enter the facility we look forward to in-person courses continuing.
As in so many other aspects of our lives, the Covid-19 closures present an unprecedented challenge for EPI and we are doing our best to respond. Our primary concern is with the health and wellbeing of our students, and other incarcerated people, who are particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease.
We share this
to provide context for some of the dialogue around Covid and incarceration in Massachusetts at this time.
Mneesha and the EPI team