HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf is issuing an executive order on Friday to authorize the early release of up to 1,800 inmates from Pennsylvania state prisons in an effort to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus. The plan is similar to what other states and some Pennsylvania counties have undertaken, and it comes after talks broke down with Republicans who hold a majority in the state Legislature.
The releases, to halfway houses or home confinement, could start as early as Tuesday, according to the governor’s office.READ MORE: Man, Woman Killed In Port Richmond Double Shooting, Police Say
The plan allows the release of inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses who are within nine months of scheduled release, or within 12 months for those considered at heightened risk from the coronavirus.
“While we need to release inmates to protect them and to allow us space to mitigate the impact of the virus in our system, we also know that we need to prepare inmates for release,” Sec. Wetzel said. “Our reentry plans will include several days of release planning with the inmate, preparing and connecting the inmate to treatment programs in the community, release transportation and a complete medical screening to ensure that we are not releasing sick inmates. We’ll also provide them with an appropriate medication supply and connect them to medical providers in the community.”
While on temporary reprieve, individuals will be monitored similarly to parolees and will be supervised by parole agents. Upon expiration of the order, individuals would be returned to prison to complete any remaining portion of their sentences.READ MORE: Bill To Let Philadelphia Voters Recall Elected Officials Gets Vote
Pennsylvania’s 21 state prisons hold about 45,000 inmates. The Wolf administration said approximately 1,500 to 1,800 inmates are eligible, although some may not be released because of challenges involving health care or behavioral health treatment, as well as housing availability and food security.
Wolf’s order said the Department of Corrections will discuss each eligible inmate with the courts, the state attorney general’s office and county district attorney’s offices.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police Announce Sweeping Changes To Department's Use Of Force Policies
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