Steve left Vare Recreation Center over the weekend with a big grin on his face. For the better part of two decades, his criminal record has kept him from getting jobs he’s wanted, even though he was never convicted of anything.
Fifteen news organizations in Philadelphia are collaborating on solutions-oriented coverage of the challenges facing the formerly incarcerated in Philadelphia.
Here are some uncomfortable facts about Philadelphia:
- We have the highest per-capita incarceration rate of America’s 15 largest cities.
- We are have the highest number of juvenile lifers of any city — 300. And the commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the highest number of any state — 500.
- Pennsylvania has the highest parole supervision rate in the country. Almost 250,000 people in the state are supervised by 65 county probation departments on any given day.
“In 2016, there is national consensus that mass incarceration, as a social experiment, has failed,” writes Solutions journalist Jean Friedman-Rudovsky — who, along with Philly.com reporter Jane Von Bergen first conceived of this project. “It will be impossible to dramatically reduce the prison population nor change the social landscape that’s been created by the criminal justice system until the revolving door of re-incarceration is stopped.”
While criminal justice challenges have increasingly become part of our public discourse and national media coverage, the issues surrounding reentry haven’t gotten much attention. The notice the topic has garnered has often been fragmented, and focused on the intractability of the challenges.
What good does it do to know that 5 percent of those released in 2005 were re-arrested within five years and more than half ended up back in prison, without looking at how some places and programs have successfully disrupted that narrative? Continue reading Introducing: Philadelphia Reentry Reporting
In Philadelphia, the recidivism rate for those recently released from prison is north of 65 percent. A study has found that, on a national scale, more than 75 percent of ex-offenders are rearrested in the five years after their release. There are plenty of factors that go into these awful statistics: Lack of mental health infrastructure for former prisoners.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams met Thursday with 60 Kensington High School seniors to talk about education and the law. The visit was organized by English teacher John Lavin, who works closely with the school’s social studies department to bridge the gap between social issues and literature.
From a small room in Center City, radio activist Vanessa Graber wants to broadcast the realities of post-prison life to thousands of Philadelphians. Next week, PhillyCam, the public-access media nonprofit, will launch WPPM 106.5. It’s one of three new radio stations created following a grassroots push to carve out more slots on FM dials across the country.