Bill Cosby’s lawyers are asking Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to reconsider their request for “compassionate release” for Cosby in light of the coronavirus. They claim that his medical history makes him more vulnerable to the coronavirus. With several positive COVID-19 cases already confirmed at SCI Phoenix in Montgomery Country, where he is being held, Cosby’s lawyers requested he serves the rest of his sentence from home.
On April 10, Wolf ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to transfer select people currently incarcerated to community correctional facilities or home confinement. Cosby’s lawyers were certain he would be among the few permitted to serve their sentence from home.
On April 16, Cosby’s longtime friend and publicist Andrew Wyatt released a statement saying, “We truly believe that Mr. Cosby will be a direct beneficiary of Gov. Wolf’s executive order.” A Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spokesperson dismissed any speculation that Cosby would be released to home confinement. “Sex offenders are not eligible under the reprieve criteria,” the spokesperson told Fox News.
Despite their request for “compassionate release,” their appeal was denied, officials say, because Cosby is considered a violent offender. On Saturday, his lawyers released new information about Cosby’s medical history in the hopes that Wolf will reconsider. According to Cosby’s lawyers, he would not survive COVID-19 behind bars because of his medical history, which includes two major surgeries since last fall to relieve blockages in his carotid arteries to prevent a heart attack.
They also revealed that Cosby is now completely blind due to glaucoma. “We are asking Gov. Wolf to amend his executive order and grant Mr. Cosby compassionate relief based on his current medical status,” said Wyatt in a second statement. In an interview with Fox News, Wyatt said, “It seems it's more politically motivated and personally motivated to not let this man out. It's very upsetting and disappointing.”
Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 for drugging and raping Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand was one of more than 50 women who came forward to accuse Cosby of assault. Cosby is currently sentenced for three to 10 years. His sentencing includes being classified as a “sexually violent predator.” Additionally, he is now registered as a sex offender and must receive sex offender counseling for the rest of his life.
Other states in the U.S. have taken similar measures to reduce prison populations in an attempt to better address coronavirus outbreaks. So far, changes in sentencing or confinement have only been given to non-violent offenders.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.