COVID-19

Updates

Spread & Mitigation of 
COVID-19 in PA Prisons

How to use this map

  • Click on any county for regularly updated news and data on COVID-19 in county jails and state prisons. 

  • Toggle between maps. The first tracks the spread of COVID-19 in county jails and state prisons. The second shows how county jail populations have changed during the pandemic.

This map was created with assistance from the Vera Institute

Ask A Question 

If you have a question related to Coronavirus in PA prisons and jails, please refer to our FAQs below. If you do not see an answer to your question, or if you have a specific question regarding a loved one, please click below to submit.

How can I stay in touch with a loved one who is incarcerated?


If your loved one is incarcerated at an SCI: All in person visits are suspended until further notice. When they do resume, the PADOC has indicated that they plan to maintain virtual visiting as an option. Starting September 1st, Secretary Wentzel has announced there will be a new video conferencing component to facilitate video visits. This new video visiting process changes the way family/friends can schedule a visit with their loved one. For more information on this new process click here. Click here to create an account and schedule your visit. If you would like help navigating this new process, our Customer Service Associate is happy to help. Contact her at 215-910-4571 or customerservice@prisonsociety.org. If your loved one is incarcerated at a county prison: Access to visiting varies by county. The Society has reached out to every county jail about their policies and we will be sharing updates as we hear back. A full list of policies by county can be found here. If we do not have information about the prison you are interested in, we encourage you to reach out and to ask them to update us. Several prisons have implemented no contact visits with certain restrictions to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection. They include Cumberland County Prison and Armstrong County Jail, which have remained free of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, and the jail in Bradford County, where the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is currently less than 1%. Several prisons are also making video visits available at no charge.




When will bus service resume?


Once in-person visiting resumes, the Prison Society is ready to offer bus service in accordance with DOC visiting policy and guidelines. We will share bus services updates on our social media channels and supporter emails.




How are prisons and jails keeping incarcerated people safe and healthy?


We are working to gather information about what each SCI and county jail is doing to respond to the crisis. We are conducting a survey of incarcerated individuals throughout the state and plan to share what we learn from their direct experience on a rolling basis. If you have a loved one in a state or county facility, please encourage them to complete the survey. Here is the survey link here




How can I stay updated about the state of COVID-19 virus inside of Pennsylvania prisons and jails?


Scroll up to our interactive map (above) for regularly updated information about the spread and mitigation of COVID-19 in state prisons and county jails. Sign up for mailing list to recieve regular updates in your inbox. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has created a COVID-19 dashboard to share basic information and statistics about the status of COVID-19 in the state prison system. Here you will find information on testing for incarcerated people and employees, quarantines, video visitation and more.




What happens if my loved one is awaiting a court date?


Contact your defenders' office in the county where your loved one is scheduled to appear in court to find out what court hearings are still occuring and what delays should be anticipated. If you need help contacting a defense attorney or if you are not hearing back, please let us know.

If the case you are concerned about is in Philadelphia County, the Defenders' Association has set up a form to request assistance electronically. That form can be found here.

You can find the contact information for the Public Defender's office in your county here.




Are there any programs that offers assistance while people are awaiting a bail reduction?


Contact your county public defenders office to find out information. Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh all have local bail funds that can help with bail. If you are in one of those counties, you may contact your local fund. 
 Pittsburgh – Bukit Bail Fund 
 Harrisburg: Dauphin County Bail Fund 
Philadelphia Bail Fund
 Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
 Community Fund for Bond and Legal Support (Immigration)




Will my loved one be released on time if they have been granted parole?


The Department of Corrections assures us that if someone has been approved for parole, they will be released on the approved date. If your loved one has not been given a release date, there may be delays. Additionally, if details of the approved home plan cannot happen because of COVID-19, there may be delays while developing a replacement plan. For example, no interstate transfers are currently being approved. Therefore, a new home plan must be developed if an interstate transfer was part of the original plan, which may cause delays to release.




Who can help me with the release of an incarcerated loved one?


The DOC has indicated that they have identified all medically vulnerable people who are eligible for release under the Governor's reprieve. A full copy of the order can be found here. If you are seeking help with the release of an incarcerated loved one, the county public defender may be able to help. You can find contact information for the Public Defender's office in your county here.




Will mandated programming requirements be waived while programming is suspended?


No. In most cases they will not be waived. There are a few exceptions, but very few. When programming is mandated by law, it must be completed prior to release. The Department of Corrections is working to ensure that any programs that can happen in cells are moving forward in order to minimize delays. There may be limited circumstances where a program can be completed in the community post release. Contact your local defender for more information.




Are families notified if a loved one tests positive for COVID-19?


No. Please ask your loved one to let you know if they are tested and what the results are. Encourage them to call, or write you as soon as they know. Medical information, like a positive test, is concidered confidential to the person. If your loved one wants to let you know, they need to tell you themselves.




Can people in the RHU (solitary) access Zoom visits?


Yes, some restrictions may apply.




How is daily life in prisons impacted by COVID-19 restrictions?


On March 22, Secretary Wetzel released the DOC's Demobilization Plan for state correctional institutions (SCIs) that outlines gradual increases in out-of-cell time and a gradual resumption of programming.




Can I get updates about my loved one's medical condition from DOC?


Not usually. Medical information is concidered confidential to the patient. If you would like to hear medical information directly from the doctor or prison administration, your loved one should ask to update their Form DC-108. The Form DC-108 is a form that all people in state custody sign that speicifies who can receive medical information. Your loved one should update this form to specifically state that you are able to receive medical information. Your name needs to be clearly spelled out on this form.




How do I properly send mail to my incarcerated loved one at a SCI facility?


All incarcerated people should be regularly receiving mail, even if the facility is in lockdown. If you are sending a letter or photographs (not a photo book), use the below address: Smart Communications/DOC NAME/PPN SCI FACILITY PO Box 33028 St. Petersburg, FL 33733 Envelopes must have a return address, and be within 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall. Photographs are limited to 25 photos per mailing. All mail will be sent to a central processing facility, not the institution where your loved one is housed. At this central facility, it will be opened, scanned and emailed back to the facilities. If you are sending a Photo Book or other publication use the below address: Name, Inmate # 268 Bricker Road Bellefonte, PA 16823-1667 This address is the Secure Processing Center, and they accept books, calendars, photo books, magazines, and other publications. For all other questions about how to send mail, click here. Each county jail has their own mailing policy. We encourage you to go on the county facility's website to check their specific mailing procedures.





Media Mentions

Pennsylvania prisons to begin lifting lock downs without universal testing, May 22, 2020

"Claire Shubik-Richards of the Pennsylvania Prison Society said her organization has been interviewing correctional medical experts for guidance on how to safely permit greater movement within the prisons. The feedback they received was that increased outdoor time — currently restricted to once every four days, or even once a week, in some institutions — is crucial."

Why Gov. Tom Wolf’s big effort to grant coronavirus reprieves to Pa. inmates came up small, June 11, 2020

"State officials faced intense pressure to reduce prison populations in the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, prioritizing those whose releases were largely uncontroversial for the sake of expediency, said Claire Shubik-Richards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society."

 

What happening with COVID-19 in jails?August 5, 2020

“Last week the Pennsylvania Prison Society – an organization recognized in state law that advocates for both prisoners and staff at correctional facilities – sent an email blast announcing that COVID-19 cases have been detected at two county jails.”

Cancellations

  • All visitor buses from the Prison Society are suspended until further notice. 

  • The Department of Correction has suspended ALL visits statewide until further notice. 

  • Our Hope Alive meetings are cancelled until further notice.

  • Our Parenting classes are cancelled until further notice.

Contact Information

CONTACT US

customerservice@prisonsociety.org

215-564-4775

215-564-1830 (FAX)

FIND US: 

230 South Broad Street, Suite 605

Philadelphia, PA 19102

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