Letter from Faith Leaders to Governor Wolf
Sign in to Google to save your progress. Learn more
Faith Leader Letter to Governor Wolf Calling on Him to Use Reprieve to Bring Elderly and Vulnerable Incarcerated People Home
Dear Governor Wolf,
A horrible illness is spreading across our Commonwealth. It’s afflicting people in every county and people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We write to you as people of faith to thank you for the decisive measures you have taken to protect Pennsylvanians. As our communities work to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, we call on you to take greater action to protect incarcerated people and DOC staff by using your power of reprieve to temporarily suspend the sentences of elderly and vulnerable people.
We are getting a glimpse of the future of PA prisons with the situation on Rikers Island in New York, where infection in the jail is “just under 2.8%, which is nearly 10 times higher than the rate in New York State and 18 times higher than the rate in Italy.” In the correctional environment where people are held in close quarters, social distancing is not possible and the virus spreads quickly. We understand that measures are being taken to restrict the movement of the population, but we also know that people cannot be indefinitely confined to their cells, and that this virus is highly contagious. We must take action now to reduce the risk of serious harm and death to elderly and vulnerable incarcerated people.
If COVID-19 becomes widespread in the concentrated populations of the state prisons, it also puts Department of Corrections staff and their families at higher risk. With many state prisons located in rural areas with more limited health care infrastructure compared to metropolitan areas, it's not hard to imagine what lies in store. The virus will become widespread in the prisons. Correctional officers and other staff will in turn carry the virus to vulnerable members of their families and communities and rural healthcare systems will become inundated. We simply must do everything in our power to reduce the likelihood of that future.
This week, Jewish communities will celebrate the story of the Jewish people’s liberation. Christian communities will mark the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our faith traditions call us to preserve and work for the freedom and well-being of all peoples. We call on you to do the following:
Use your power of reprieve to temporarily suspend the sentences of elderly and vulnerable people. On a recent press call, Department of Corrections Secretary Wetzel said that there are 12,000 people that are medically vulnerable in the state prisons based on the CDC’s guidelines. We know that of those 12,000, a little under 2,000 are over the age of 60. As you have rightly noted when using your power of reprieve to stop the death penalty from being carried out, that power to temporarily suspend sentences is ‘express and unlimited’ and that “the Governor may define the reason for, and duration of, a reprieve as he sees fit.” We need you to show mercy and use this power now. Start with those that can quickly assemble home plans and have the Department of Corrections assist those who may need help assembling a home plan.
Ask the parole board to create categories of presumptive parole to quickly get people out of the system. There are many people who have served their minimum sentences. Ask the Parole Board to assemble criteria that grants the presumption of parole if they have been misconduct free for a certain time or demonstrated rehabilitation in other ways.
You have the power in your hands to save thousands of lives. Not only that, but you have the power to show people in the Commonwealth that leadership must be humane and compassionate. We call on you to use that power in this moment.

I would like to sign this letter
Clear selection
Phone Number
Clear form
Never submit passwords through Google Forms.
This content is neither created nor endorsed by Google. Report Abuse - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy