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 state Department of Corrections is poised to roll out a new program for all 26 of its locations statewide. Myra Gaskins’ life changed in 1989. Her son, LaFaye Gaskins, had been arrested for murder. Myra still insists her son is innocent, but a jury found him guilty in May 1990 of killing Albert Dodson, a drug dealer.
“Artwork, I knew, was the one thing that they could not take from me.” One of the highlights of the Mural Arts Program’s new project is that it’s giving a voice to people who don’t normally have one. A mural created by two formerly incarcerated artists will be dedicated at 4 p.m.
Hope Hall treats, houses and even employs ex-offenders. Eric Echevarria admits that he made some silly mistakes when he was young. He grew up in Camden, where he hung out with the wrong crowd. The drug dealers, he said, controlled everything and were idolized.
Dominique “Peak” Johnson joins the team. Former journalist Dominique “Peak” Johnson will join on a special one-year Knight fellowship. Johnson’s duties over the next year will be to contribute reporting resources to the Solutions Journalism Network’s Philadelphia project, a 16-organization group covering prisoner reentry and recidivism in Philadelphia.