Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies ACLU inmate emergency release petition


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied the ACLU’s emergency petition which sought the categorical release of inmates from county jails.

The ACLU said in a release that it wanted ‘medically vulnerable prisoners’ and those on short sentences for minor offenses, among others, to be released.

The organization says drastically reducing jail populations is the only way to prevent widespread contagion.

The state Supreme Court says it understands that jails are vulnerable to the rapid spread of coronavirus, but ultimately had to deny the petition:

“The immediate release of specified categories of incarcerated persons in every county correctional institution, as sought by Petitioners, fails to take into account the potential danger of inmates to victims and the general population, as well as the diversity of situations present within individual institutions and communities, which vary dramatically in size and population density.”

The court is instead, shelving responsibility onto the President Judge of each judicial district to handle protocol regarding inmates throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Some systems have begun to let people out; Lancaster County Prison has released dozens of inmates and Allegheny County Jail has released more than 600.

The full order can be read here.

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