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Incarceration Nation

Covid-19 Death at State Correctional Institution Phoenix, Pennsylvania

By Bryant Arroyo

An innocent man is the first to die in Pennsylvania prison (Phoenix) of Covid-19. Rudolph Sutton, who was being assisted by The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, is the first state prison inmate in Pennsylvania to die from Covid-19. Mr. Sutton, an inmate at SCI-Phoenix in Montgomery County, died on April 8th due to acute respiratory distress from pneumonia due to Covid-19, with contributing factors of hypertensive cardiovascular disease and cirrhosis. “My father has always maintained his innocence and believed one day he would be free,” said his son, Rudolpho Sutton. “Our family is devastated by his passing but hope his death will lead to quicker actions to release his codefendants and others who do not belong in prison because they are innocent.”

“Mr. Sutton should have never been incarcerated in the first place,” said Nilam Sanghvi, Legal Director of The Pennsylvania Innocence Project. “As an innocent man who served 30 years for a crime he did not commit, his tragic death underscores the urgent need for the Governor, the Department of Corrections, the Legislature, and the Courts to act quickly so that another factually innocent person doesn’t risk death in prison due to Covid-19.” Nan Feyler, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, added, “One of the greatest concerns becomes a tragic failing when such a person dies all the more, so swiftly, when action can prevent a person’s death from happening.”

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project will continue its efforts to clear Mr. Sutton’s name, as well as those of his codefendants. “This is my greatest fear that I die in this place from Covid-19, as an actually-innocent man! I live with persistent fear every waking night/day and I just can’t wait for the day of justice to get out from this death-trap, within, the entrails of this beast...There is greater fear than this constant reoccurring thought coupled with high anxiety filled with restless nights and days in our daily lives. It’s horrifying and undoubtedly, I am in the worst predicament in the world.”

Write to:

Smart Communications/PA DOC

Bryant Arroyo #CU-1126

SCI Rockview

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733