Emergency Call-in day: Stop the Philly Jail expansion

Stop the jail expansion imageOn Thursday, June 4 ,City Council is again scheduled to vote on Bill #150406, which would authorize $7.2 million dollars to buy land to build a new jail in Philly. The city claims the new construction would replace the House of Correction, although it would house over 1000 more people. Decarcerate PA and the Philly Student Union are organizing a call-in day to stop the Bill. Call City Council and tell them to vote NO on jail expansion, and instead to end the policies of mass incarceration that contribute to overcrowding in the Philadelphia jails.

We believe the House of Correction can—and should—be closed. But instead of building a new jail, the city must address the massive number of people currently incarcerated in Philadelphia’s jail system. About 80% of the 8000-plus adults and children currently held in PPS are being held pretrial. The overwhelming majority of people are there simply because they cannot afford to post bail while they await trial.

If City Council truly cares about the wellbeing of people in the House of Correction, they should reform Philadelphia's broken bail process, challenge rampant overcharging in the District Attorney's office, address the excruciatingly slow pace of a court system that allows people to sit for years awaiting trial, and end the police practices of racial profiling, brutality, and stop and frisk that disproportionately funnel poor people and people of color into the city's jails.

Former Councilman Jim Kenney—who won the mayoral primary and will likely be Philadelphia’s next mayor—has said publicly that he will not move forward with the construction of a new jail. The voters of Philadelphia sent a resounding message this past election that their priority is education and the funding of our schools. Investing in the school-to-prison pipeline goes completely against the mandate laid out by voters. It does not make sense for City Council to spend over $7 million to buy land for a jail that likely will not, and should not, be built.

While our city's schools continue to struggle to find funding, and we have no funding for nurses, counselors or the resources our children need, why is that City Council can still find money to build jails? We have seen that the building of new jails never guarantees the closing of the old ones. The #BlackLivesMatter Movement has highlighted the injustices in Ferguson and Baltimore and proven that the criminal justice system is being used to not only target the poor and mostly Black residents of their cities, but is also used a money generating scheme to get fines and fees paid for by these same people who fall victim to over-charging, racial profiling, police violence, and incarceration.

Philadelphians do not want and cannot afford a new jail. We want investment in our schools, housing, jobs, reentry resources and other institutions that make our communities healthier, safer and stronger. We call on City Council to vote no on Bill #150406 and to take real action to reduce our city's jail population and close down the House of Correction without devoting hundreds of millions more to expand and perpetuate a failed system.

CALL, TWEET, and WRITE CITY COUNCIL TODAY and demand that they vote NO on jail expansion, and instead fully fund our schools and social services and reverse the destructive and racist policies that keep the Philly jails full! #No215Jail

For call scripts and talking points, click HERE. 

You can find the contact info for everyone in City Council here. If you can only make a couple calls, call Councilman Henon, the bill's sponsor, to ask him to withdraw the bill, and Council President Clarke to ask that the bill not be brought up for a vote.