The number of incarcerated persons drops 18 percent, but costs still rise. After years of cultivating a bloated jail population that led to overcrowded conditions and the “most incarcerated big city in America” title, Philadelphia is finally addressing its problem with a plan to slash the population of incarcerated persons by a third.
Imagine if you offered a tax credit and nobody applied for it? That’s what happened in Philadelphia. Since 2008, the city has offered companies a $10,000 per year tax credit if they hired people with records. Few took it. Now the city’s trying something different.
Philadelphia has a new initiative designed to put cash on the table instead of tax credits for city businesses that hire people with criminal records. Mayor Jim Kenney is urging businesses to take advantage of it. “There’s a lot of smart decent people there who took a wrong turn maybe can’t make bail,” he said Wednesday.
How Philly is revitalizing a widely unused tax credit program for hiring returning citizens – Generocity Philly
As it’s been made clear time and time again, finding a job is one of the most important factors that help those returning from prison to find success and avoid the hugely consequential problem of recidivism Philly is trying to tackle.
And city officials are only partway toward their goal. On an average day, there are about 1,500 fewer inmates in the Philadelphia prison system than there were just two years ago. Philadelphia still has the highest incarceration rate per capita of the top 10 largest American cities.
The United States has more people with criminal backgrounds than the entire population of France. In Philadelphia, it’s estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 residents – approximately one in every six of us – has been intimately familiar with a jail cell. One in six.