When it comes to getting beyond their usual habitat, the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra will play for aficionados in Carnegie Hall, or, once in a while, far away in Tokyo or Vienna. One day last month, visiting composer Hannibal Lokumbe took a string quartet of orchestra musicians arguably farther afield – into the Philadelphia Detention Center in Northeast Philly’s Holmesburg section.
You can hear the man from the stairs. He calls out “Xanny! Percs!” as the El above him pulls away. He is thin, wearing a red sweatshirt. A small tattoo is etched above his left cheek. His corner is Somerset and Kensington, in plain view of a SEPTA Transit Police car across the street.
Back in January, Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield was undertaking a radical experiment in criminal-justice reform from the otherwise drab confines of an 11th-floor courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center. There were no major criminal cases on her docket – just addicts, small-time drug dealers, and a man accused of stealing a power drill from inside a car.
A little more than a year after Philadelphia expanded its ban-the-box law, which prevents employers from asking about criminal backgrounds until a job offer has been made, federal legislators introduced similar national legislation in Washington. – Jane M. Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News