Philadelphia, PA – April 3, 2020 – Philadelphia City Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At Large), Helen Gym (At Large), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large), Derek Green (At Large), and Isaiah Thomas (At Large) today issued to following statement calling on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to address the growing COVID-19 threat in county jails and youth detention facilities:
We support the positions of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Juvenile Law Center and Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project, as outlined in the emergency petitions filed this week. As the petitions highlight, incarcerated individuals face a significantly higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Moreover, county jails have a high turnover rate, sending people back to our neighborhoods, whether or not they have been infected. A swift reduction in the population of our jails and youth detention facilities is necessary to slow the spread of the virus and protect the lives of Philadelphians. This process would target primarily low-level and juvenile offenders and provide an opportunity for objection by the District Attorney’s Office on public safety grounds. Indeed, similar orders by courts in nearby states have already been issued, including those of New Jersey, South Carolina, and Washington.
Where courts have failed to take action, such as in New York City, the county jails have seen hundreds of inmates and county jail staff alike become infected. The City of Philadelphia has already identified at least twenty confirmed cases of the COVID-19 across the county jails, local prisons, and the Juvenile Justice Services Center. As the number of infected individuals throughout the city climbs, the window of time for action grows smaller each day.
As City officials, we share a collective responsibility to protect the safety, health, and well-being of all Philadelphia residents. Based on the available scientific research and data, it is likely that the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to grow in our City. Swift action is needed to protect the wellbeing of our incarcerated residents, correctional staff, and community members.
CONTACT Kendra Brooks, Councilmember At-Large: Maggie Hart (margaret.har[email protected]) 484-649-4373
CONTACT Jamie Gauthier, 3rd District Councilmember: Stephanie Browne ([email protected]) 215-934-0709
CONTACT Helen Gym, Councilmember At-Large: Greg Windle ([email protected]) 215-847-0358
CONTACT Kenyatta Johnson, 2nd District Councilmember: Vincent Thompson ([email protected]), 215-279-4951
CONTACT Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Councilmember At-Large: Taylor Daukaus ([email protected]), 215–686–0454
CONTACT Derek Green, Councilmember At-Large: Kyra Harris ([email protected]) 215-847-9135
CONTACT Isaiah Thomas, Councilmember At-Large: Max Weisman ([email protected]) 610-306-2195