- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix says the coronavirus pandemic should prompt mass clemency for New York’s prison population.

The man who won the Best Actor award for playing “Joker” has joined fellow celebrities such as John Legend and Emily Ratajkowski in a hashtag activism with #ClemencyNow.

Activists are calling for at-risk prisoners to be released immediately.

“A message from Oscar award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix,” the Release Aging People in Prison Twitter account wrote on the actor’s behalf. ‘I’m calling on @NYGovCuomo to take action in New York by granting clemency to New Yorkers in prison. The lives of so many people depend on his action. No one deserves to die in prison from COVID-19.’ #ClemencyNow”

An embedded video expanded on the actor’s views.

“The spread of coronavirus in prisons threatens the health and safety of all of us,” Mr. Phoenix said. “When you’re incarcerated there’s no such thing as social distancing and ensuring good hygiene is not an option. Leaders must do everything possible to prevent incarcerated people and those who work in prisons from becoming ill and spreading the virus. I’m calling on governor Andrew Cuomo to take action in New York by granting clemency to New Yorkers in prison.”

The actor concluded his plea by saying, “No one deserves to die in prison from COVID-19.”

New York has a population of roughly 8.4 million people.

The latest data by Johns Hopkins University on the contagion includes over 13,700 confirmed cases in the state, 756 of whom have died.

Over 43,000 Americans have recovered from the virus.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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