Last month, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said something a lot of the previous inhabitants of his office would never have said. “For too long, we’ve relied solely on incarceration to prevent crime and violence,” he said at a press conference along with Governor Tom Wolf to announce the statewide Pennsylvania Reentry Council (PRC).
Two would-be cooks frantically huck some parsley onto a plate of what appears to be hash. It’s a potato and ground beef concoction, but the color tones-yellow, brown-are a little earthy, and could use some zhuzhing up.
For the month of February, a Philadelphia man will live in an open air mock jail cell. At night he’ll sleep in a body bag. During the day he’ll speak and listen to anyone who steps up to the bars. Visitors will find a thin, deep-eyed man who at 42 years is neither young nor old, radiating love.
Christina Wall spent 19 months at Riverside Correctional Facility for a first-degree felony. While she was in prison, she met with many different organizations that promised to help her re-enter society when she’d done her time. When she got out in June of 2015, Wall, a first-time inmate originally from New Jersey, tried to get in contact with all of these groups.
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.
When El Sawyer was 17 years old, he was sentenced to 8 years in Graterford prison for a drug-related shooting. At night, he lay awake in his cell, in fear of a rotating string of cellmates in the bunk above him, thinking about what went on in the prison-the stabbings, killings, suicide, depression, and anger.