Philadelphia aims to cut jail population by 15% with grant

Philadelphia plans to continue its efforts to reduce the city's jail population and to reduce racial inequities in its criminal justice system with the help of a $2.275 million MacArthur Foundation grant.

City officials announced the funding boost Tuesday, its fourth award from the foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge Network since 2015. The new grant brings the city's total funding to about $9.9 million.

The city has used some of the previous funding to lower the jail population — currently at about 4,600 people — by about 43% since 2015 including closing its antiquated House of Corrections facility. Officials said in a news release Tuesday that they hope the new funding will aid efforts to cut another 15 % from the jail population by 2022.

In its application for the grant, the city also notes it hopes to work on ways to lower the racial inequities in the system as well, noting that people of color make up about 65% of the city's population, while last year they represented about 92% of people held at the city jail.

The funding will be used for seven different initiatives, city officials said, including efforts to reduce the number of people in jail with mental illness and to reduce the average length of stay for people detained at the jail.


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