On May 11th, Philly.com reported that City Council's Committee on Public Property had approved the purchase of new land to build a new Philly jail. Decarcerate PA opposes the proposed expansion of the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS). We believe the House of Correction can—and should—be closed. But instead of building a replacement jail, the city should address the massive number of people currently incarcerated in the Philadelphia jail system. Of the 8000+ adults and children currently held in PPS, about 80% are being held pretrial. The overwhelming majority of people are detained simply because they cannot afford to post bail.
If City Council truly cares about the wellbeing of people in the House of Correction, it 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 people of color into the city's jails. Philadelphians do not want and cannot afford a new jail. We call on City Council and Philadelphia's next mayor to take real action to reduce our city's jail population and shut down the House of Correction without devoting hundreds of millions more to expand and perpetuate a failed system.