Need for Immediate Action to Protect Philadelphia's Youth in Confinement From COVID-19

Today, 34 organizations and individuals dedicated to the health and safety of Philadelphia’s youth signed onto a letter imploring Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney, Philadelphia City Council, and the Philadelphia Courts to take immediate action to protect incarcerated youth from COVID-19. Drafted by the Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project, the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, Juvenile Law Center, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the letter demands prompt action to keep all young people and families safe during this unprecedented public health crisis.

The letter builds on the King’s Bench Petition that Juvenile Law Center, Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, and DLA Piper, with support from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, filed yesterday asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction and instruct the President Judge of each Judicial District to take measures that expeditiously reduce the population in all youth detention and correctional facilities, including youth under jurisdiction of the juvenile and criminal courts.

Recognizing that COVID-19 spreads much more rapidly in custody than in the general population, the letter calls on Philadelphia leaders and judges to immediately and voluntarily carry out the steps outlined in the King’s Bench Petition in order to protect youth and forestall grave public health ramifications for the entire city.

About the Expert

Kate Burdick is a Senior Attorney at Juvenile Law Center with over a decade of experience advocating for youth in the justice and child welfare systems. She first started at Juvenile in 2009 as the eighth Sol and Helen Zubrow Fellow in Children's Law, then later served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow (sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP) and Staff Attorney. Between fellowships, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.