COVID-19

Updates

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Spread & Mitigation of 
COVID-19 in PA Prisons

 

 

How to use this map

Click on any county for regularly updated news and information on COVID-19 infections and vaccination in county jails and state prisons (SCIs). 

Toggle between maps to see

  • which county prisons are vaccinating people in custody and staff

  • COVID-19 cases among people in custody and staff in state and county prisons

  • the total number of COVID-19 deaths in state prisons among people in custody and staff and

  • how prison populations in county prisons declined in 2020

Note: 

  • Vaccinations of staff and people in custody have begun in all SCIs.

  • COVID-19 infection data in SCIs includes both people in custody and staff and is updated daily based on data reported on the Department of Corrections' COVID-19 Dashboard.

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 Wetzel 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 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 The Society has published two reports analyzing survey results, which can be found here and 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. If your loved one has a detainer, please contact your local defender.




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. To better manage COVID-19 when it enters the DOC, officials have begun reducing the population where they can. Possible early releases include:

  • Furloughing paroled individuals from centers to home plans
  • Working with the parole board to maximize parole releases
  • Reviewing parole detainers for individuals in county jails and state prisons
  • Expediting the release process for anyone with a pending home plan
  • Reviewing records for people within the state prison system who are beyond their minimum sentences
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 virtual 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. As more people receive vaccinations, facilities may be able to lift select restrictions. For a full list of current restrictions, visit https://www.cor.pa.gov/Pages/AlertDetails.aspx




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


Not usually. Medical information is considered confidential to the patient. If you would like to hear medical information directly from the doctor or prison administration at an SCI, 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 specifies 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. If your loved one is at a county prison, contact the prison directly for information about their medical release policies.




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.




What should I know about the DOC's vaccine rollout?


For the most up-to-date information on administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to incarcerated people and staff, please visit the DOC Vaccine Information page: https://www.cor.pa.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information.aspx




When will I be able to visit my loved one in person?


All SCIs have announced a resumption of limited visiting. Please note that as of August 5, 2021, in-person visits are limited to vaccinated incarcerated people only. People in custody who refuse the vaccine will still have access to video visiting and programming. The number of visits is very limited per day, and it is expected that appointments may be challenging to get. Loved ones can sign up for visits using the same scheduling system for video visits. More information can be found here. Decisions regarding the reinstatement of in-person visits at each location are based on inmate vaccination rates, percentage of COVID-19 cases among the inmate population, and results from the DOC’s wastewater testing program that monitors for elevated levels of the COVID-19 virus. The Prison Society's transportation remains suspended. We will update our supporters about changes to service as soon as more information is available. Visitors must follow the PADOC's COVID-19 protocols (masks, social distancing etc) but are not mandated to be vaccinated.




Does my loved one qualify for the 2021 COVID Reentry Payment Program?


Individuals who have been incarcerated in Philadelphia Department of Prisons on State Road between 3/1/2020 and 6/30/2021 are being offered 2021 COVID Reentry Payments. Eligible applicants must meet these criteria: Individuals who have been released from Philadelphia Department of Prisons on State Road. This includes CFCF, PICC, ASD, RCF or DC

  • A resident of Philadelphia
  • Have had a gross income equal to or less than $33,000 in 2020
  • Have or will have a bank account, mobile banking account, or reloadable debit card in their name that accepts direct deposit
For information on how to apply, click the following link. This program is exclusive to Philadephia County. If you are aware of similar programs elsewhere in the state, we would love to know about them! Contact us at customerservice@prisonsociety.org





Media Mentions

COVID is ravaging the incarcerated. Where are the solutions? Generocity, January 22, 2021

Despite all the usual measures to reduce the spread of COVID in congregate settings — mask-wearing, social distancing, increased sanitizing, lockdowns — Secretary of the Department of Corrections John Wetzel reports that the number of incarcerated people who are infected is increasing

 

Pa. prisons don’t always tell families when inmates are sick  The Citizen's Voice, January 18, 2021

“If the DOC has shown that they can go cell-to-cell and get important (stimulus) documentation completed, they should be lauded for it,” said Claire Shubik-Richards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the state’s unofficial ombudsman for prisoners and their families. “That level of competency means they could go cell-to-cell and get people to think about who they want notified, and also afford the opportunity list more than one name.”

Coronavirus raging through Pa. and Lehigh Valley prisons, infecting guards as well as inmates The Morning Call, January 2, 2021

"Advocacy groups like FAMM and the Pennsylvania Prison Society say the immediate, safe reduction of the prison population is imperative to saving lives."

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 Parenting classes are cancelled until further notice.

Contact Information