PHILADELPHIA – The City today announced it has entered into a partial settlement agreement regarding measures taken by the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) to mitigate the introduction and transmission of COVID-19 in its facilities.
The settlement agreement memorializes policies and practices designed to safeguard the health and safety of all inmates and staff within PDP. Earlier iterations of these actions and protocols were published in late March, prior to the litigation, and have evolved throughout the ongoing pandemic and this litigation. The agreement provisions address matters such as access to personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting of PDP facilities, personal hygiene, social distancing, and access to counsel.
“This settlement recognizes that the early, proactive implementation of these measures by the Department contributed to the PDP’s successful mitigation of COVID-19,” said City Solicitor Marcel S. Pratt. “By memorializing those protocols in the agreement, the City provides assurances to Plaintiffs that these successful efforts will continue and be modified as conditions warrant and improve. We thank counsel for Plaintiffs for their collaborative approach to this important matter.”
Just-released test results show that mitigation of COVID-19 in the jails has allowed the jails to enter yellow phase effective today. This transition includes decreasing, gradually over time, stringent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shelter-in-place restrictions in PDP facilities. Unless in isolation or quarantine, inmates will be able to spend more time out of cell, and routine services increasingly will be provided in housing unit common areas and medical offices rather than in each cell. Restrictions will be decreased incrementally to ensure that no new surge of infection is occurring.
As the jails enter the yellow phase, and as operations modify to reflect the Covid-19 testing results, PDP expects to continue its collaboration with counsel for the Plaintiffs in the pending litigation, as well as with stakeholders in the public health and legal community, to resolve the remaining issues in the litigation. That federal litigation is captioned Remick v. City of Philadelphia, Civil Action No. 20-1959.