Protesters argue for early prison release

 Protesters drove by the State Capitol to rally for the early release of prisoners.
Protesters drove by the State Capitol to rally for the early release of prisoners. (WILX)
Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 4:50 PM EDT
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Wednesday's protest argued the state is doing too much during the coronavirus pandemic.

One day later protesters say it's not doing enough.

"The outcry is serious right now...people are terrified," said protest organizer Percy Glover.

As of Thursday morning, there were nearly 500 cases and 13 deaths among the state's prisoners.

The Drive 4 Life Rally aimed to slow the spread of coronavirus by asking Governor Whitmer to release more inmates.

Protest organizers said the clock is ticking.

"We're very concerned about what that might look like when you spread it across the board," said Troy Rienstra, a protest organizer.

State Corrections officers are also at risk; nearly 200 have tested positive for the virus.

"They have families..they have to go in and work...we want them to know that we support them," said Rienstra. "We know they have a responsibility of taking care of people we call family, friends and loved ones who are still behind bars."

"It's gotten to the point where staff are scared to go inside," said Glover. "When you have that, you know there's a crisis."

Organizers hope the protest can make the public aware of the problem and draw some action from the state.

"We're creating the platform and energy for the conversation, and hopefully that energy continues to build where we can see how we can make things more appropriate for everyone," said Glover.

The Michigan Department of Corrections said they're working on processing paroles and releasing as many prisoners they can as they see fit.