The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous civil liberties concerns, from the safety of people in detention facilities to voting rights to the expanse and limits of government power. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has prioritized its work in this moment based on how and where we can be most impactful.
Criminal Legal Reform
Without immediate action, our jails and prisons could become the epicenter of the pandemic. Criminal legal reform advocacy groups are urging government officials to release as many people from Pennsylvania’s state prisons and county jails as possible and to implement additional safety measures across the system to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Courts
- King's Bench Petition On County Jails During COVID-19
- Graham et al. v. Allegheny County
We must protect immigrants and refugees who are being held in detention. The conditions in detention facilities make it likely that the COVID-19 virus will spread rapidly. People who are being detained, facility employees, and the communities that the employees are a part of are all at risk.
On March 24, we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to free 13 people held in immigration detention who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19. Other ACLU affiliates across the country are filing similar lawsuits.
In the Courts
- ACLU Urges Federal Court to Release People in Immigration Detention Who Are Vulnerable to Coronavirus
SB 1110 | Release of communicable disease information to first responders
ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 2463 | Right to Know Law during disaster declarations
ACLU-PA Position: Supports
Student and Youth Rights
The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to our 2020 presidential election, but we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our democracy is not disrupted. Pennsylvania recently delayed the primary election scheduled for April 28 until June 2. We are encouraging voters to register for vote-by-mail as a way to maintain social distancing during this global crisis. Learn more at www.votesPA.com.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, our Legal Intake Department is operating at a limited capacity until further notice. Although we are reviewing all of the complaints submitted through the online form, we will not be able to respond to every request for assistance we receive. To file a legal complaint, click here.