May 21, 2008 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter directed the Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla to develop a plan detailing short, medium and long term management recommendations for the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) for fiscal years 2009- 2013.
The “Philadelphia Prison System Strategic Plan FY09-FY13” was delivered to the Mayor on April 24, 2008, having been developed in collaboration with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Everett Gillison, Philadelphia Prison System senior staff, members of the Prison Reform Transition Committee and concerned professionals within the city’s justice and prisoner advocacy communities.
“The Philadelphia Prison System needs to be retooled to adequately face the strains of a modern city,” said Mayor Nutter. “The system has languished without the political will for change. I thank Commissioner Giorla, Deputy Mayor Gillison for their leadership in drafting this plan.”
The Prisons Plan is organized around a central, immediate challenge- all of the Philadelphia Prisons facilities are operating at or over their designed occupancy capacities. Commissioner Giorla and his team recommend focused efforts targeting three populations- 1) people with one holding case and low bail, 2) inmates who are seriously mentally ill, and 3) drug offenders in order to alleviate overcrowding. Many of the people who fall into these three categories do not need to be in jail, and a responsible government will find economical alternatives to incarceration that provide adequate supervision and services. The Plan includes recommendations for increased use of day reporting for non-violent detainees in the short term and increased use of house arrest with GPS tracking and expansion of drug treatment court in the long term to lower the prison population.
The Plan’s recommendations are divided into three additional categories to address the other major issues facing PPS- recidivism, staff recruitment and retention, and technological upgrades. Challenges in these areas are interrelated, and must be addressed carefully. Many recommendations included in the Plan rely on strong cooperative and collaborative relationships between PPS and other City agencies and departments – and Commissioner Giorla, along with Deputy Mayor Gillison will be spearheading efforts to continue to streamline operations while ensuring that Philadelphians are protected and served by the Philadelphia Prison System.