Current Inaction on Coronavirus in Montgomery County, PA
The same County Commission that fired Keisha Hudson and Dean is now out trying to convince the public that a functional, fair, and efficient system exists to review and release those incarcerated in local jails in this time of crisis, and significantly diminish jail for those newly arrested.
On March 18, 2020, Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh stated:
“We are ensuring that for most crimes, inability to pay a cash bail would not during this emergency put you into the correctional facility, we would monitor you in some different way . . . and they [are taking] a look at the correctional facility to see if there is anybody who is eligible to be discharged from the correctional facility."
Public defenders from Keisha and Dean's office, in a strongly worded rebuttal, set the record straight. First, they pointed out the Commissioner's admission of the unconstitutionality of the current bail system in Montgomery County that Keisha and Dean were fired for challenging:
"Inability to pay bail, for all crimes, should never be the reason someone is put into a correctional facility. This is a legal mandate, and if it took a health crisis before this County was willing to publicly stand behind this legal requirement that should raise serious concerns."
The defenders then noted that they have requested release for dozens of people, starting with what should have been the most easiest cases to get agreement on: low bail, non-violent offenses. Only 4 people have been released so far. The defenders have had no luck with cooperation from the District Attorneys office. Judges continue to set bail and send people too poor to afford bail into harms way solely because of their poverty.
There is a crisis in Montgomery County, PA. Steady leadership is needed.
"We are facing a pandemic that will, should it infiltrate our prison, wreak havoc on our prison population and create potentially lethal consequences, and yet we’ve faced inexplicable roadblocks."