(Photo via Flickr user Geoff Stearns, used under a Creative Commons license)
It’s been two years since Philadelphia was selected by the MacArthur Foundation in May 2015 as one of 20 communities to receive a $150,000 grant to begin work toward reducing its prison population by doing things like, well, arresting fewer people.
With a whopping $3.5 million awarded to Philly by the foundation this past April, a big chunk of the $6 million total invested by the city, the effort has apparently been making some good headway in its three-year plan to cut Philly’s prison population by 34 percent.
According to Billy Penn, the jail population in Philly has decreased by almost 20 percent since May 2015: A bit more than 8,000 people were incarcerated in 2015, down to 6,604 by the end of last month.
The new numbers and results come out of a recent hearing with City Council’s Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, where a coalition of leaders in the criminal justice community have worked to implement six strategies, which include 19 programs.
Twelve of those programs have already begun, and of those 12, Billy Penn highlights two programs — pretrial bail advocates and Early Bail Review — working to specifically lessen the pretrial inmate population, which makes up almost 30 percent of the Philadelphia Prison System population.
According to the city, 84 percent of defendants who received an Early Bail Review were released and 90 percent of those defendants showed up at their next court date.
But as mentioned by Jaime Henderson, director of research and development in the First Judicial District, at the hearing, there’s still a good amount of work and planning to be done.
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“We are over halfway there … but there’s a lot of work that lies ahead of us,” Henderson said.-30-
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