New York, NY – One Voice United, a national organization for corrections officers and staff, held a virtual vigil on May 14, memorializing those who lost their lives during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
National labor leaders, including Mary Kay Henry, international president, SEIU, and Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO, were also on hand to read the names of the deceased.
In an average year, 11 corrections officers lose their lives in the line of duty. Over the past year, however, at least 219 corrections officers and 41 non-custody employees died in the line of duty from COVID-19. At the same time, COVID-19 has killed more than 2,750 incarcerated people.
“In 2016, I founded One Voice United so we could build a national united voice for corrections officers and other frontline staff. A little over a year ago, COVID-19 started to work its way across our country, leaving a wake of devastation in its path…we all know someone who’s been touched by its effects and we know those who have seen this the closest are the essential frontline workers, regardless of what their profession is,” One Voice United founder Andy Potter said. “I realize when most people think of essential workers, they’re not thinking of correctional employees. Often the men and women who do one of America’s toughest job are overlooked…tonight is about honoring [their] dedication and bravery.”
One Voice United Chair Ed Sullivan called corrections a “noble profession.”
“This foundation was founded by active and retired correctional officers for the purpose of recognizing the hidden heroes in corrections on a national level,” he said. “We honor these men and women who protect the public on the local, county, state and federal level. Correctional staff share a common bond, a bond that has caused all of us to witness, observe, interact and continually train in a dangerous profession.”