Twenty-nine people have died in Philadelphia jails during the pandemic, but city officials still don’t view this as the humanitarian crisis it is. In a new op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, our executive director, Claire Shubik-Richards, calls out the city’s continuing denials of the dangerous and inhumane conditions in the jails.
The city’s response to our latest memo detailing conditions reported by incarcerated people and observed by Prison Society staff “maybe its most Orwellian yet,” Claire writes. A lack of supervision driven by a critical shortage of corrections officers has been implicated in many of the deaths, and nearly everyone we interviewed reported that officers were still often absent on weekends. Denying their lived experience, the jail commissioner insisted that “all housing units are staffed.”
Our findings about a host of other problems, from housing units infested with mice and bird droppings to a lack of medical care, were met with the same kind of denials and obfuscations.
“There are immediate actions the city can take to reduce the toll of the suffering,” Claire writes in the op-ed. “But first it must see this humanitarian crisis for what it is.”
Read the whole piece here.