End Mass Incarceration

The Problem

  • Philadelphia faces a mass incarceration epidemic that includes large racial disparities in who gets arrested, prosecuted, and locked up, and who doesn’t. The Police Department is left to its own devices for internal investigation of misconduct and has no real community accountability.
  • Despite the reduction in Philadelphia’s jail population, people across the city are still being incarcerated and held at an alarming rate, often for petty offenses, technical violations of probation or lodged automatic detainers, and/or due to an inability to pay unaffordable cash bails.
  • Technical violations for insignificant infractions, along with lodged automatic detainers means people spend extended periods in jail before a court hearing.
  • Probation officers are overloaded with cases and are not held to accountable practices.
  • The First Judicial District has no administrative policy for the practice of probation detainers.
  • Despite a slight decrease in 2018, Philadelphia continues to prosecute youth under 18 as adults and hold youth pretrial in adult jails.
  • The Police Advisory Commission, the body that is supposed to serve as the liaison between community and the PPD, is underfunded and has no real power of investigation or accountability.
  • People entering our criminal justice system are not given real economic opportunities and support systems that allow them to thrive, leading to recidivism and hardship during pre-trial and re-entry.

Our Solutions

  • We must continue to reduce the number of people held we hold in jail by an additional 50% from current levels.
  • Police must be held accountable in cases of brutality and misconduct.
  • People impacted by our system must have access to community-centered opportunities.
  • We must stop prosecuting and incarcerating children as adults, and divert youth out of the justice system and into community-based models of support whenever possible.

City Council Actions

  • Add staff and ample funding to the Police Advisory Commission, following through on the commitment to increase funding from $500K to $1.5 million.
  • With the savings from our decreasing jail population, invest in alternative sentencing programs like restorative and transformative justice initiatives, job programs, and pre-trial and re-entry services that are community-centered.
  • Push criminal justice stakeholders, including the First Judicial District and its Adult Probation and Parole Department, the District Attorney, the Managing Directors’ Office, the Public Defender Association, and all criminal justice partners to cut our adult parole and probation population from 40,000 to 20,000 within 2 years.

Download End Mass Incarceration Brief

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