Pass HB 37: Public Health Emergency Credits

Since March 2020, like all Delaware residents, the people housed in Delaware correctional facilities have been affected greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no real way to prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease inside a prison where inmates share cells, communal recreation, and dining spaces, and sometimes bunk in dormitory-style rooms. But public health recommendations have made clear one critical tactic for mitigating the risk of COVID-19 in prisons: Expand early release programming.

Sen. Marie Pinkney and Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown have introduced a bill in-line with these public health recommendations: House Bill 37, the Public Health Emergency Credit bill.

This legislation would help relieve some of the dangers in our prison system created by COVID-19 and offset some of the effects the disease has had in our detention facilities by creating a new method for early release.

This would only be available to those already set to re-enter society within the next year, but could really help free up space in prisons in the short-term to reduce the impact of the pandemic for those who still must live and work in DOC facilities.

The effects of the pandemic have led to:

  • Staff shortages

  • Closures of educational and employment programs

  • The suspension of visitation by family members and loved ones inside the prisons

  • Restrictions on the opportunities to earn good time credits

  • Drastically limited avenues for early release

  • Significantly more punishing conditions

  • And, tragically, 12 deaths from COVID-19

We must act fast to pass HB 37, sign it into law, and reduce our prison population to save lives through the pandemic.

Please consider writing a letter to your legislators in support of HB 37.

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