PHILADELPHIA–“The Defender Association of Philadelphia stands with the families of the incarcerated, prison employees, activists and concerned community members in decrying the continued deterioration of conditions in our city’s jails.
“The unsafe conditions are the direct result of personnel shortages exacerbated by the pandemic. The only way to increase the safety for the incarcerated and take some of the pressure off prison employees is to safely reduce the prison population.
“To that end, we’ve been working closely with our justice system partners to create a new court program involving pretrial release. We’ve made significant progress, and hope to implement this program soon. Our office continues to work to secure release for individual clients. Anyone who has a loved one who is incarcerated should reach out to our office and speak with an attorney so we can present the best argument possible on their behalf.
“In the meantime, we need to move with a sense of urgency to not only address the health and safety hazards created by prison overcrowding, but also protect the health and wellbeing of the people and communities we serve. This means working closely with community leaders–particularly from those neighborhoods most impacted by both community violence and incarceration–to find solutions to the root causes of crime.
“We must also continue to build on established partnerships between criminal justice system stakeholders, activists, and advocates to explore community-driven alternatives to detention that promote equity and safety. This includes ensuring people who can be safely released from the jail have access to safe and affordable housing.
“Our work to reunify people with families and communities as we improve conditions in our jails must go hand-in-hand with programs and initiatives that provide brighter futures for the incarcerated and the neighborhoods they return to.”
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