HB 37, COVID-19, and the Public Health Crisis in Prisons

January 26, 2021 @ 5:30 pm 6:30 pm

Incarcerated people have far fewer means of earning credits toward early release from prison during a pandemic, and the conditions of a prison make social distancing nearly impossible, which is why public health experts have recommended early release as a critical tactic to contain COVID-19 inside prison walls.

Senator Marie Pinkney and Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, Chairwomen of the Senate and House Corrections Committees, have introduced a bill in-line with these public health recommendations: House Bill 37, the Public Health Emergency Credit bill. For every month an incarcerated person serves in prison during a public health emergency, they would receive six months’ credit, allowing for a maximum of one year reduced from their sentences.

The DOC reports that, as of January 11, over 2,000 incarcerated people, DOC staff, and contractors have tested positive for COVID-19. A dozen incarcerated people have died so far from the virus — and the death toll will continue to mount both inside facilities and out, unless we take immediate action to mitigate this crisis. It is imperative that HB 37 is passed through the General Assembly and brought to Governor Carney’s desk as quickly as possible to save the lives of those who must continue living and working in our prisons. 

Join us via Zoom on Tuesday, January 26, at 5:30 p.m. for a virtual forum on HB 37 and how this legislation can help combat the devastating effects of the pandemic inside Delaware's correctional facilities. You’ll hear from Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, the Chairwoman of the House Corrections Committee, impacted community members, and justice reform experts, with a Q&A period for participants during the event. The Zoom event will also be live-streamed on the ACLU of Delaware Facebook page.

Please note: this Zoom event will be recorded, and registration is required for all Zoom participants.