DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — As we have been told during this outbreak, COVID-19 spreads in close, confined spaces, which is why families with loved ones in jail are especially worried that they will get sick. Inmate Darrell Bassett spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News from his jail cell inside George Hill Correctional Facility.
“It’s literally spreading around the whole jail,” Bassett said.
Bassett has been quarantined due to his possible infection with COVID-19.
“My temperature was 103 degrees. I’m on the same block where the other guys tested positive for the coronavirus,” Bassett said. “They’re not giving us cleaning supplies or stuff like that. They’re doing nothing for us here, they’re just locking us in our cells every day. They’re not letting us out to shower half of the time. It’s out of control.”
Bassett, from East Lansdowne, made the list of non-violent, low-offending inmates eligible for release, but a probation detainer is blocking his exit.
“The detainers are the reason why the jails are overpopulated,” he said.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer confirmed a parole detainer based on an out-of-county conviction several years ago is the roadblock.
“That’s what’s really holding this particular individual in our county jail,” Stollsteimer said.
Bassett’s fiancé Tyhesia Sharp pointed to his charges — marijuana-related misdemeanors — and blasted the system.
“The state should just stop playing around, lift these detainers off these people and let these people come home to their loved ones,” Sharp said.
Bassett’s attorney says they’re waiting to hear from the state parole board. Meanwhile, Bassett paints a grim picture.
“I’m still on trial for my life and now this epidemic is going on and they’re not lifting any detainers,” Bassett said.
The ACLU has filed a King’s Bench application before the Supreme Court seeking the release of scores of inmates across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Many district attorneys vehemently oppose that move, saying balance must be struck between the pandemic and public safety.