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Apr 5, 20

Disturbance at Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center During COVID-19 Quarantine

Report on recent prisoner action in Philadelphia. Originally reported by Perilous Chronicle.

Nine prisoners under quarantine at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center threw commissary containers at the windows of their cells in an apparent effort to break the glass. Guards responded in riot gear and used pepper spray on the prisoners. According to city officials, no prisoners or staff were injured during the conflict.

The description of the confrontation was related to media by two corrections officers who were not authorized to discuss the incident publicly. The event comes in the midst of the city frantically trying to manage the spread of COVID-19 inside the city’s jails. And as of April 3, the day of the disturbance, 31 prisoners in Philadelphia’s jails and an unspecified number of guards had tested positive for COVID-19 disease. This makes the rate of infection in the city’s jails four times the rate of the rest of the city.

Brian Abernathy, the Managing Director of Philadelphia, told media that the jails have adopted some measures to address the health of prisoners and prison guards and staff, such making masks available and enacting a “shelter in place” policy where prisoners must remain in their cells except for access to showers and phones.


As the coronavirus gains strength in Philly’s jails, panic and fingerpointing mark efforts to avert crisis by thinning inmate population“, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2020.

Philly inmates in quarantine create disturbance as coronavirus concerns spread through jail,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2020.

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Perilous is a project supported by a network of people—including you—who seek to gather and track information on prison uprisings, riots, protests, strikes, and other disturbances within public and private jails, prisons, and detention centers in the US and Canada. In this process, we rely on crowdsourced information in addition to local news outlets and our own reporting.

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