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Community Orgs. Protest for Release of People from Prison Amid COVID-19 Surges

Philly Voice: Hannah Kanik - November 28, 2020

The Workers World Party Philadelphia and other community organizations will hold a demonstration outside the Federal Detention Center to push for the release of prisoners due to the high spread of COVID-19 within the prisons.

The WWP gathered at 2 p.m. on Nov. 28 outside the FDC, according to a press release from the organization.

In the past month, over 200 Coronavirus cases have been reported within the Philadelphia FDC, despite little to no contact with family, visitors or attorneys, according to the release.

"The only humane course of action is to release prisoners to their families and community," the release said. "Particularly elderly, immunocompromised prisoners, and prisoners with pre-existing conditions."

Attorneys of those incarcerated at the FCD filed a lawsuit because they say the facility has not adopted COVID-19 safety protocol. They claim there is a lack of personal protective equipment available, as well as sanitizer and social distancing.

The Pa. Department of Corrections publishes information and statistics regarding the state of Coronavirus in prisons across the state, though individual-specific information and testing details will not be released. It created its own dashboard that shows information including inmate and staff testing data.

"The DOC is fully compliant with CDC testing guidelines and that inmates have access to robust medical staff/operations at both the local and Central Office levels, including a former chief of clinical services who specializes in public health who has returned to serve as a special advisor to COD leaders."

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officers move any prisoner that tests positive into isolation units within the prison.

Coronavirus cases have been on the rise over the past few weeks. In Pennsylvania, 8,362 cases were reported on Nov. 27, and an average of 6,855 cases every seven days, according to the New York Times. There was an increase of 57% from the past two weeks of data.

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