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CAIR–Alabama Urges Officials to Protect Civil Rights, Inmates and Disabled in Coronavirus Response

(BIRMINGHAM, AL, 3/29/2020) – The Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Alabama) today urged public officials ensure adherence to the basic civil and human rights for everyone – and particularly for vulnerable populations of inmates and the disabled — in that state.

“Like past challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic is a call to action to our nation’s better angels,” says CAIR-Alabama’s Executive Director Hamid M. Khan. “The civil and human rights of all Alabamians should not be undermined by short-sightedness and instead be guided by maintaining the dignity of all during these difficult times.”

In a statement, CAIR-Alabama wrote:

  1. Alabama Hospitals Must Adhere to Federal Standards Concerning Care for Those Disabled and Avoid Rationing of Life-Saving Treatment

Affirming the stance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, the Council on American-Islamic Relations–Alabama, demands reform to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Emergency Operations Plan. 

Specifically, we seek change regarding ventilator rationing during health emergencies, which states hospitals are ordered to “not offer mechanical ventilator support for patients” with “severe or profound mental retardation,” “moderate to severe dementia,” and “severe traumatic brain injury.”  This policy also applies to children.

Each of these provisions violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and places lives at serious risk. 

We call upon state and local officials to take immediate action to address this discrimination and assist local jurisdictions and providers in developing non-discriminatory approaches before there are lethal consequences to the application of these illegal policies.

  1. Alabama Must Institute Adequate Precautions and Preventive Measures for Those Currently Incarcerated in Alabama’s Jails and Prisons

The Council on American-Islamic Relations–Alabama also calls upon officials throughout the State, in considering the health and safety of people in jails and prisons, not to mention corrections officers and related law enforcement and release those people most at risk of suffering severe complications or death from contracting COVID-19.  Ample evidence demonstrates those incarcerated in jails and prisons are housed in close quarters and are often in poor health. 

SEE: US condemns ‘broken’ Alabama prison system

Alabama, in compliance with state and national public health care guidelines, needs to educate both staff and the people detained in local, state, and federal facilities on the dangers of the virus and how to avoid contracting it; keep infected staff out of facilities and isolate individuals who have tested positive; avoid lock downs; regularly screen and test all individuals in the facility and those who work there; ensure free and accessible phone communication with family members and confidential access to legal counsel; release elderly and medically fragile people before they contract the disease; release people in pretrial detention who are charged with nonviolent offenses; limit future pretrial detention by issuing citations rather than arresting and booking people into jail, and approve early release of people who are within six months of their end of sentence date.

CAIR-Alabama is part of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.


CONTACT: CAIR-AL Executive Director Hamid M. Khan, (205) 531-7766,,, 

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