|Posted:||April 1, 2020 04:29 PM|
|From:||Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Resolution Urging Governor to Furlough Non-Violent Offenders from PA Prisons|
|On March 29, 2020, Governor Wolf and the Department of Corrections made the decision to place Pennsylvania’s prison system, which houses 44,000 inmates, into quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inmates are forced to conform to even stricter social distancing standards to control the spread of this vicious virus. Many face significant confinement in their cells well beyond the typical amount of consecutive hours. This all presents significant new challenges, even when it comes to daily routines like mealtime.
In particular, I am very concerned with inmates at higher risk, such as those who are pregnant, 65 or older or have serious underlying health conditions. We need to ensure they’re able to receive the proper care they need. Inmates with those underlying health concerns are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. I have serious concerns some prison conditions, never built to handle a pandemic situation, are unable to keep inmates safe.
That is why I will be introducing a House Resolution urging the Governor to sign an Executive Order for the Department of Corrections to furlough all non-violent offenders, pregnant women and inmates over the age of 65 until the emergency declaration is over. This would provide the Department of Corrections time to implement a more efficient and safe plan to house inmates in this new reality. Keep in mind, this is not just about inmates, this action could stop help the spread of the virus among staff and administration throughout our prison facilities.
The immediate furlough of Pennsylvania inmates who don’t pose a public safety concern would be a significant step toward stopping the unnecessary spread of COVID-19. The reality is by keeping inmates and staff in confined quarters together, we are allowing a dangerous and unhealthy situation to persist. This is in such stark comparison to the aggressive measures and actions we’re taking in every other area in our communities.
Please join me in co-sponsoring.