Jay-Z and Meek Mill’s Prison Reform Alliance is giving back during the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization announced that 100,000 surgical masks will be donated to prisons across the United States to help protect inmates and the staff who work there.
“It’s a very vulnerable population,” Reform Alliance‘s chief advocacy officer Jessica Jackson told CBS News. “We’re really worried about the number of people coming in and out of the facility, and the fact that the people living there might be sitting ducks during this pandemic.”
Advocates have warned that COVID-19 can and will spread faster in jail as it is nearly impossible to abide by social distancing guidelines.
“Overwhelmingly the response was, ‘please provide the masks, we really need them.’ They want to protect the people working and living in the facilities,” Jackson added. “I think Rikers Island especially, they are very aware the virus has hit and so many lives are now at risk.”
As of Thursday, 231 inmates and 223 staff members at New York City jails tested positive making it the largest outbreak in the prison system.
5,000 masks have been sent to Parchman in Mississippi, 40,000 to Tennessee, 50,000 to Rikers Island in New York, and an additional 2,500 masks sent to Rikers Island’s medical facility.
Earlier in the week, Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation donated $1 million to pandemic relief efforts.