The Organization for Black Struggle and MO Citizens for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) have teamed up to do their part to keep prison families connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organization of Black Struggle founding member and Executive Director Jamala Rogers reached out to MO-CURE early in the pandemic to collaboratively raise funds for their members in prison to help them stay connected to their loved ones.
“We decided to raise some funds to put on their prison account so that they continue to at least have telephone conversations and emails to speak with their loved ones and their legal teams, because some of them are working on their cases and this also has cut them off from their legal support,” Rogers said.
The collaborative project raised $4,000 for their Prison Families Project.
Keith Brown-El understands the importance of staying in touch with loved ones. Brown-El spent 36 years incarcerated in Missouri prisons. Brown-El is co-chair of MO-CURE.
“Prisoner communication with family members and loved ones is important because it carries with it the hope of one day being united with them no matter how remote the possibility may seem,” Brown-El said.
Prisoners have been in lockdown and visits by families prohibited. Connection with families is one of the primary ways that prisoners maintain their sanity and humanity during the pandemic.
“They already are in a system that's repressive and oppressive, so those links to the outside are extremely important, particularly during COVID, when a number of these facilities have cases and there's nowhere for these inmates to go,” Rogers said.
“We've been keeping track of the cases from inmates inside the facilities across the state and how many COVID cases that they are identifying. And there's going to be information that helps us to say, ‘These facilities need to get some testing.’”
OBS and MO-CURE have been working together since MO-CURE’s inception in 1990. Rogers and MO-CURE Co-Chair Edna Harden have been working together since the 1970s.
MO-CURE began as a state chapter of National CURE. CURE was founded in 1972, originally as a faith-based organization started by Charles (Charlie) and Pauline Sullivan. Charlie quit the calling of the priesthood after criticizing the Catholic Church for its cautious position on civil rights issues in his native Alabama at the same time span that Pauline quit her sisterhood after 13 years, disenchanted by the Catholic Church’s cautious stance on the American Indian Movement and gay rights in her native Minnesota.
“If you want to live in peace and harmony with people who have been formerly incarcerated,” Brown-El said, “they have to be treated like human beings while they are incarcerated.”
To donate to the Prison Families Project, visit www.obs-stl.org using PayPal button or call 314-367-5959.