Correctional Facilities & COVID-19
Recent developments with COVID-19 have lead some state agencies to consider early release from county and state correctional facilities. There are roughly 1,100 people currently sitting in state prisons for nonviolent crimes who have served their minimum sentences, but have yet to have a parole hearing. Roughly 600 are behind bars for technical parole violations and have not been charged with a new crime. Those released could be sent to a halfway house, or potentially be placed on house arrest.
This is an unprecedented time in our nation. Certainly, given the position of certain state agencies and officials, there are extensive concerns regarding the welfare of the incarcerated population within our Commonwealth. If you, or a loved one, are in a position where incarceration is becoming a concern due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freundlich and Littman LLC would be more than happy to discuss what options you may have if certain criteria are met. These options include filing certain motions and requesting hearings before the appropriate authorities to reduce a sentence or amend a prisoners supervision. The team at Freundlich and Littman LLC is ready to fight for your rights during these difficult times. Please give us a call today at our direct correctional facility line at 215-461-3619 for a free consultation.
Early Release From Correctional Facilities
Corrections Secretary John Wetzel spoke to state lawmakers about the prospect for legislation about which state inmates might qualify for early release. Wetzel said lawmakers should pass the administration’s proposal to release inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses who are within nine months of scheduled release, or within 12 months for those considered at heightened risk from the coronavirus. Those inmates considered by health officials to be most at-risk for contracting COVID-19, including people who are immunosuppressed, would likely be released first. Wetzel said his department has enough tests at the moment, saying “we’re where we need to be today,” but added there are roughly 12,000 people in state prisons — about a quarter of the prison population — who the CDC would consider medically “vulnerable” for coming down with COVID-19. “We’re still exploring options,” said Wetzel, adding that he is in talks with Senate lawmakers, the state’s Office of Victim Advocate, and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association considers “a temporary, legislative solution” to be reasonable, considering the health threat from the pandemic, said Lindsay Vaughan, the group’s executive director. “We believe any legislative solution should be thoughtful, focused on non-violent inmates, provide supervision, and include the input of the local district attorney and the sentencing judge,” Vaughan said. Any release plan would require state lawmakers to pass a bill authorizing it. And it will be up to them to decide whether such a bill is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside the state’s prison system. If a law does pass, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole would consider incarcerated people for release on a case-by-case basis.