Fixing Philly Prisons Will Be Hard, But Here’s A Plan For How To Do It

Philadelphia Neighborhoods, 01/08/24: ““End the torture. No more jail deaths” was pasted on a banner held in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall, part of a rally held by dozens of people attempting to bring awareness to the violence and abuse that is plaguing Philadelphia’s prisons. Between chants of “No one knows when you die; the PDP always lies!” and “What do we want? Oversight! When do we want it? Now!” rally administrators paid tribute to the 46 people who have died within the Philadelphia Department of Prisons since 2020, according to the Abolitionist Law Center, which has been tracking the number through Right-to-Know requests.

“We really wanted to highlight and make aware the torture that has been happening in Philly’s jails and in particular highlight the extreme number of deaths that have occurred since 2020, which has been nearly 50. There is no accountability, no transparency, and no oversight over the Philly jails,” said Sam Lew, an organizer for the Abolitionist’s Law Center, the organizer of  the rally on September 28th.

One proposed solution: implementing a Prison Oversight Committee, an independent oversight body dedicated to overseeing Philadelphia’s Department of Prisons. The proposed Committee, spearheaded by the Abolitionist’s Law Center’s Prison Oversight Board Advocacy Coalition and City Councilman Isaiah Thomas, is a response to the growing number of incarcerated deaths as well as the recent uptick in prison breaks, consistent staffing shortages, and a growing concern with prison conditions.

But the Prison Oversight Committee is just one of many reforms geared to creating a more just and fair Philadelphia criminal justice system.”

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