On Friday, The Appeal reported that Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) plans to grant clemency to hundreds of state prisoners to prevent COVID-19 deaths in state facilities.
"Through the Reprieve of Sentence of Incarceration Program, Wolf will offer reprieves, a form of clemency that suspends a criminal sentence, to incarcerated people who meet certain requirements," wrote Joshua Vaughn. "Those who are considered vulnerable to COVID-19 because of chronic medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes can apply for a reprieve if they are no more than 12 months from reaching their minimum sentence. Individuals who are not considered vulnerable and are no more than nine months from reaching their minimum sentence can also apply."
Wolf's announcement comes hours after a criminal justice rally in Philadelphia demanding at-risk prisoners be released. The event was attended by prominent politicians, including Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, an outspoken progressive reformer.
"According to a news release from Wolf’s office, somewhere between 1,500 and 1,800 incarcerated people, out of the more than 44,000 people in the state’s prisons, are eligible for reprieves under the program," continued the report. "But Wolf said in the news release that ensuring people are connected to healthcare, housing, and food security outside prison will most likely mean fewer people than the total number eligible will be released: Individuals who qualify for a reprieve must be moved to a halfway house or have a proper home plan where they can be put under house arrest. In both cases, they will remain under state supervision."
Currently, 11 prisoners and 18 prison staffers in Pennsylvania have tested positive for COVID-19, and the virus is thought to be widespread in the untested population.