Lehigh Valley jail lockdowns remain even though COVID case numbers have dropped

Written by on February 12, 2021

Lehigh Valley jail lockdowns remain even though COVID case numbers have dropped

By Tyler Pratt

February 12, 2021

Photo by izhar khan from Pexels

COVID-19 cases at Northampton and Lehigh County jails are dwindling after months of concern about high case numbers. But lockdowns will remain in place. 

Inmates can only leave cells once a day to bathe. There are no visits and little-to-no access to educational programs, like GED classes that can reduce recidivism. 

“This is supposedly a department of corrections and that means leading people to alternative ways of life,” says Joe Welsh from the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute.

That’s hard to do in lockdown.

Officials say the Northampton County Prison has allowed more than 50 non-violent offenders to serve under house arrest. But beyond that, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure says there are too many unknowns about COVID-19 to lift restrictions for those still inside.

“When I think vaccination is universally available to everyone then I think that is a time we can start considering in-person meetings,” McClure says.

Lehigh County Jail is also not allowing visitors. But it did sign a contract this week with Lehigh Carbon Community College to roll out a virtual program so more than 100 inmates can take high school classes.

Inmate advocates and county officials are asking health officials to expedite vaccinations for inmates, which could lead to loosened restrictions. 

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