The Government May Be Putting People In Prison On Thanksgiving Day
Certain governors across the country have written new executive orders in another futile attempt to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. They haven’t learned from the past, yet they keep trying the same thing repeatedly. It’s insanity. This time around, some of these elected officials want to police your Thanksgiving dinner plans.
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced new COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, and residential gatherings in New York State. Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than ten people. He says the limit will be implemented due to the recent prevalence of COVID spread “ resulting from small indoor gatherings including Halloween parties.”
Let’s say, for instance, I choose to have 11 people in my home for Thanksgiving. Are local authorities going to enter my home and arrest the 11th person for violating Cuomo’s order? Who will they charge, the 11th person or me? Who is the 11th?
Maybe they would round up the entire dinner party and take everyone to jail. With all of the concern for public health, what would be the purpose of putting the gang of 11 in jail with the other scofflaws? It seems that it would create a scene with more people stuck in a confined place, violating the rules once again.
While we grapple with whether to gather with loved ones this holiday season, there are still two million people who remain confined in our nation’s prisons and jails. Has anyone thought about how they are faring inside a system that’s being ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic?
Let’s face facts; prisons and jails frequently suffer from overcrowding. By definition, they are facilities where people are placed in close contact with each other on a near-constant basis. There have been massive increases in coronavirus infections this fall. According to the Marshall Project, during the week of Nov. 17, there were 13,657 new coronavirus infections reported across the state and federal prison systems. The previous week saw 13,676 new cases.
I’ve heard talk about poor ventilation in public schools and how classes have to leave the windows open so kids don’t catch COVID-19. These children may be catching a regular cold or the flu instead. We have forgotten that the American penal system is a perfect breeding ground for the virus. All of the social media bickering over mask-wearing and social distancing is essentially moot inside these overcrowded facilities. I’m pretty sure these jails and prisons are old and poorly ventilated, just like schools, theaters, your local grocery store, or most other indoor spaces. Cells in prison are close together, and hygiene standards are difficult to maintain.
Do governors want to put more people in these kinds of places?
If governors want to lockdown folks in lockdown due to some silly ten-person limit rule, there will be additional challenges-like rapid turnover.
What if law enforcement all over the state decides to drive through neighborhoods and count cars this Thursday and round up people during the afternoon Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show? Somehow, the police take 11 people into jail. Those taken in will be confined for only a few hours, or at the most, a few days. Won’t these conditions enable the virus to circulate swiftly between the people inside the confined area? Won’t these cells be “microclusters” or “superspreaders,” resulting in broader community transmission once they are allowed to return home? Contact tracing would be much more difficult.
Thankfully, many sheriffs are choosing to ignore the directives from their governors:
- “Thank you for the correspondence regarding one of the more recent edicts from our Governor. I will start by saying as the County Sheriff I took an oath to uphold the US and New York State Constitutions and intend to honor that oath. Therefore, we will not be enforcing the ten-person limit in private residences. As my fellow Sheriffs have stated — this order would not be constitutional to enforce nor do there seem to be any enforcement measures included in the order. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office will not be going into private residences to enforce executive orders — a person’s home is their castle. As a public servant, I will continue to encourage our residents and visitors to recognize the potential dangers of COVID-19 and to practice reasonable measures to keep themselves, their family, and loved ones as well as others they come in contact with safe and healthy. We will continue to respect individual rights and remind people that with every right we have, we also have a responsibility to respect other’s rights. We all have a right to be safe and secure, especially in our homes, and we should respect other’s same right. Now is not the time to be reckless in regards to the pandemic.” — Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone
- “I appreciate your concern. I have spoken with several media outlets regarding this topic. I will not be enforcing this mandate.” — Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti
- “We are not encouraging people to have large gatherings in their homes. I want citizens to use their own best judgment and remain safe. We do not have the resources, nor the inclination, to peep into private residences to see how many people are at the dinner table. The Executive Order raises serious Constitutional questions. Serious issues about the right of people to privacy in their homes, the right to be free from warrantless searches, the right to assemble, the right to freedom of religious practice, the right to equal treatment under the law, and the right to have criminal conduct clearly defined by law are all implicated by the Governor’s Executive Order. I think that, rather than issuing orders, which are, at best, impossible to enforce, and, at worst, unconstitutional, the Governor would serve the People of New York better if he used his bully pulpit, not to do more bullying, but rather to encourage our citizens to be cautious, use good judgment in weighing risk factors, protect the vulnerable, and enjoy our families and our great gathering traditions only in ways that are safe until we can get back to normal.” — Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron
- “The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office will not be out enforcing the limited closure order,” said Mims during a Zoom press conference. “I haven’t seen any data that shows between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. that things happen causing a big spread of COVID-19.” “We’re not going to make criminals out of normally law-abiding citizens,” -Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims
- “ The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office will not be determining-including entering any home or business-compliance with, or enforcing compliance of, any health or emergency orders related to curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving, or other social gatherings inside or outside the home, maximum occupancy, or mask mandates” Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones.
I like this reaction to King Cuomo’s order from Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino:
“In the spirit of cooperation and conciliation, I offer the governor to come to Fulton County and do a ride-along on Thanksgiving Day for an hour with us, and we can stop at some houses where there’s multiple cars and he can show us how we are supposed to approach people and counting your numbers.”
Police departments nationwide don’t have the resources to proactively investigate the number of guests people have in a private residence. There are several questions and concerns about the order and how it may violate citizens’ constitutional protections. Police departments have no authority to enter a private residence to take a “head-count” of the guests without a warrant. These executive orders have never been accompanied by information on enforcement procedures.
Furthermore, how would the enforcement of an executive order stop a gathering at a dinner table on Thanksgiving from happening or continuing after the homeowner is cited? It won’t. It would most likely result in a homeowner receiving an appearance ticket. They might have to respond in a local criminal court several months from now.
They certainly wouldn’t drag the entire household in police vans down to the jail, into those crowded cells full of people stuffed with stuffing. These cells would be superspreader events, similar to the one Gavin Newsom attended.
People will make the right choices based on the CDC guidelines and the knowledge of their family make-up. The number of friends and family you have in your private home should remain a personal decision. If it’s done safely, the right to assemble in one’s home should never be regulated by any government agency.
THE MOST cult-ish thing I’ve seen since the Trump campaign press conference a few days ago. Wow! This cannot be serious.
Clayton Craddock is an independent thinker, father of two beautiful children in New York City. He is the drummer of the hit broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business and is a 28 year veteran of the fast-paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in several hit broadway and off-broadway musicals, including “Tick, tick…BOOM!, Altar Boyz, Memphis The Musical, and Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Also, Clayton has worked on: Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Spongebob Squarepants The Musical, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q.