A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer contained an internal e-mail communication from a Defender attorney about concerns related to visiting clients in prison during COVID-19. While we are, of course, concerned about the safety of our staff and our incarcerated clients during the pandemic, the views expressed in the e-mail in no way reflect the feelings of all Defender attorneys, nor the Defender’s commitment to providing full representation to all of our clients, no matter where they are.
In our visits, we have found that the Philadelphia Department of Prisons staff and management are taking the coronavirus very seriously, and are doing all they can to implement and enforce safety protocols. We have set up our own internal reporting for Defender staff to share their safety concerns, and we will share these concerns with the prisons as they arise.
In the meantime, we’re working collaboratively with our justice system partners to increase attorney-client access and facilitate the safe release of as many of our clients as possible.