Everett Gillison, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for public safety, is considering a plan to tear down the obsolete House of Correction and build a job-training center where it now stands, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. The city has reduced its prison population from more than 9,800 in 2009 to less than 8,300 last week, with the help of new initiatives aimed at ending the warehousing of nonviolent offenders. It has been accompanied by a decrease in crime.
No walls in any of the city’s six prisons will fall before that number drops to 6,500, and Gillison needs a new tool to get there. States including New Jersey are already using that tool, known as day reporting. It’s a more efficient way to deliver critical services to nonviolent offenders while providing supervision and a certain degree of punishment. Think of it as an expanded parole office with job training, drug testing, classrooms, and counseling. The city has issued a request for proposals for day-reporting centers, with the plan to establish 10 throughout the city, in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of ex-offenders. The first publicized proposal for a day-reporting center has been welcomed with no less than a neighborhood uprising, a war between City Council titans, and stiff political opposition to the zoning change for what the city defines as a “private prison.”