D.A. Krasner Urges Swift Action to Safely Reduce Prison Population to Prevent Coronavirus Outbreak

District Attorney Larry Krasner / Juniata News File Photo

From the DAO:

District Attorney Larry Krasner on Thursday called on state, local, and judicial leaders to accelerate efforts to safely reduce jail and prison populations in order to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in corrections facilities and surrounding communities.
 
“There are thousands if not tens of thousands of people in prisons across Pennsylvania who frankly should not be there, including people who are elderly, sick, have mental or physical disabilities, and who pose no threat of violence to the public,” District Attorney Krasner said. “Jails and prisons are already dirty, crowded places. The elected and appointed leaders of the Commonwealth must protect us all by moving forward with safe and timely release of people from corrections facilities who are unlikely to endanger the public.”
 
Since the first reports of COVID-19 infections in the Greater Philadelphia region, the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) has been working with the Defender Association to identify people for early release, including:

  • People who have already served their minimum sentence and are eligible for parole
  • People who are serving their sentence and are worthy of early parole
  • People who are elderly, ill, and/or infirm
  • People who are being held pre-trial for non-violent and misdemeanor offenses simply because they could not afford bail
  • People who are good candidates for alternative detention, such as house arrest or GPS monitoring
  • Juvenile offenders who are deemed to pose no safety threat to the public

District Attorney Krasner also joined criminal justice reform groups including ACLU of Pennsylvania and Amistad Law Project in urging Governor Tom Wolf, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons chaired by Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman to accelerate early or compassionate release for people who meet certain criteria in order to reduce crowding and other conditions that make prisons especially vulnerable environments for transmission of disease.
 
“I have long expressed disagreement with state and local leaders who support measures to keep their prisons full, especially in parts of Pennsylvania where prisons are viewed as valuable to the local economy,” District Attorney Krasner continued. “I today implore those state and local leaders to be consistent, and to take actions to protect the livelihoods and safety of people who work in prisons, their families, and their communities. A COVID-19 outbreak in prison would be disastrous, and likely deadly, for incarcerated people and everyone else. For the sake of public health, immediate action to reduce prison populations across Pennsylvania is urgently needed.”

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