Philadelphia Sees Progress in Year-Old Jail Reform Initiative

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Philadelphia is making progress in its bold reform initiative to reduce the local jail population by one-third in three years, reports the city’s Inquirer. The number of inmates has fallen nearly 12 percent, from 7,486 last April to 6,603 as of last month, according to city data. This has been no small task. Philadelphia has the highest per-capita incarceration rate of the 10 largest cities in the nation. About 30 percent of those sitting behind bars are awaiting trial.

A more liberal use of bail has been a key component of the initiative, which was spurred by a $3.5 million grant awarded a year ago by the MacArthur Foundation. Over the last 12 months, 19 pilot initiatives were crafted to address bail problems. Ten have been implemented, with three more — including a rollout of 700 wireless electronic monitoring devices — coming soon. The efforts have earned praise from even hardened critics of the various arms of the local justice system.

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