Philadelphia taking right steps to end mass incarceration

Published 8:28 am Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dear Editor,

Philadelphia is showing America how to end mass incarceration.

Philly’s new District Attorney Larry Krasner just issued a groundbreaking memo to his staff, instructing them to REDUCE the number of people in the jails and prisons and to shorten their sentences.

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He is also keeping his promise to scale back on requiring bail for people accused of non-violent crimes. The ultimate goal is to take public resources away from the exploded incarceration industry and put them into things that are actually proven to prevent crime and heal society!

Philly will now offer plea deals for shorter sentences than suggested by state guidelines. They will also STOP prosecuting all marijuana related offenses, regardless of weight. Overall, they aim to replace long jail sentences with house arrests, shorter probation periods and alternative sentencing for most minor offenses. 

“If the goal is reducing mass incarceration, that strikes me as an incredibly significant measure,” says Jonathan Feinberg, civil rights attorney.

Krasner wants his staff to consider the impact high bail amounts and harsh sentences will have on the person’s family members, employment prospects and access to public assistance. By cutting jail sentences, the city of Philadelphia will also save money. A year in prison for a minor offense ends up costing taxpayer there a whopping $60,000. One less unnecessary incarceration would pay for the position of a new teacher, librarian or firefighter.

Philadelphia is now a leading example for how to end mass incarceration that unfairly targets low-income populations and people of color.

Courage and commitment leading to real change! Where are you Fourth and Main?

Roger Hartner