Frequently Asked Questions about Health and Safety in Jails and Prisons During the COVID19 Pandemic

  • are within three months of their minimum sentence being completed;
  • are on a probation detainer if the violation which triggered the detainer is not a new felony;
  • are on work release or are serving another type of intermittent sentence;
  • are incarcerated only because they can not afford to pay cash bail; and
  • are over the age of 45 or are medically vulnerable
  • According to the state Supreme Court’s ruling described above, Governor Tom Wolf can use his executive powers to release people from county jails and state prisons.
  • Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has the power to convene and expedite proceedings of the Board of Pardons.
  • Secretary of Health Rachel Levine could offer guidance to jails and prisons urging release so that those institutions can adhere to Centers for Disease Control guidelines on social distancing and self-isolation.
  • The state Supreme Court could order the presumptive release of all incarcerated people in county jails who fall into the classes listed above.
  • The legislature could pass a law mandating the release of those classes of incarcerated people.
  • Magistrate judges could stop assigning cash bail and prosecutors use their prosecutorial discretion to not charge low-level offenses.
  • Contact Governor Wolf and urge him to use his executive powers to get people out of jails and prisons to protect public safety and the health and dignity of incarcerated people
  • Stay up-to-date on your local news
  • Make phone calls or send emails to the stakeholders listed above and urge them to take action to keep our jails and prisons safe during the pandemic
  • Keep an eye on ACLU-PA’s social media accounts for ways to take action and call on elected officials to do the right thing for public health



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
ACLU of Pennsylvania

ACLU of Pennsylvania

We are the ACLU’s Pennsylvania affiliate, defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy, and community education and outreach.