Philadelphia, Delaware county officials work to thin jail, prison populations amid COVID-19

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Saturday, March 28, 2020
Area officials work to thin jail, prison populations amid coronavirus
Philadelphia and Delaware county's district attorneys have talked about thinning the jail and prison populations in light of coronavirus.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The district attorneys for both Philadelphia and Delaware County talked Friday about thinning the jail and prison populations in light of COVID-19.

One issue that is causing a bottleneck is the offenders who are eligible for parole but can't get processed out because the courts were halted.

"The biggest hurdle right now is trying to make the court system work while the court system is closed," said Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Farley announced during a press briefing that a DOC employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, but did not specify which facility the person worked at.

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Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said his office is looking to review parole violators cases and release non-violent offenders for time served if possible.

Delaware a County has an oversight committee for the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, which is transferring from private to publicly run.

Inmate Jamier Howard spoke to Action News, detailing his concerns over the ventilation system and cafeteria trays' cleanliness.

"Five staff members and three inmates tested positive," he said.

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Stollsteimer said they are closely monitoring the conditions.

"We get the fact they are a vulnerable population...both the staff and inmates are taking care of their public health. We're always making sure we're balancing public safety with public health we are in the middle of a crisis, epidemic," he said.