As people directly impacted by mass incarceration, leading the #CLOSEthecreek campaign, we believe DA Larry Krasner’s announcement that his office will not request more than three years total supervision for felony convictions, or one year for misdemeanors, is a bold step toward ending the mass reincarceration crisis driven by mass supervision. People who are currently being impacted by the criminal legal system will benefit when they are let out from jail or prison, as any supervision that follows will be drastically reduced and people will be less susceptible to supervision violations and reincarceration.
Nearly 60% of incarcerated Philadelphians are in jail for nothing more than a probation violation. This practice has drained the resources of the city and both probation and parole have served as feeder systems for mass incarceration. Extended supervision periods have a point of diminishing returns and provide neither justice nor healing in a failing system. The human cost has been devastating and it’s time the criminal justice system move in a different direction where we begin to address and reduce community harms in a way that prioritizes human dignity. While this is a first step, we salute D.A. Krasner for his leadership and willingness to envision a new criminal justice process in Philadelphia that is more fair and just. Even as these policies are proposed, we urge the First Judicial District to support these reforms, and we call on all policymakers to meet the core demands being advanced by directly impacted advocates across this city. The #CLOSEthecreek campaign would like to see a citywide commitment to end electronic shackles for people on supervision and we are advocating for the city to commit to justice reinvestment of 15 million dollars, which would go to supporting communities and our neighbors coming home from jails and prisons or living with a record. The state must also do its part to end the mass criminalization crisis. According to the December 2018 data from the PA Board of Probation and Parole, there are 41,305 people on probation in Pennsylvania, 43% of whom are Black people. That’s 41,305 people who are at immediate risk of being incarcerated or re-incarcerated for alleged or minor violations, having their probation extended without reprieve, or being barred from employment due to the complications created by supervision requirements. D.A. Krasner’s policies offer some guidance on what can be done to mitigate those harms, and Senator Anthony Williams has put forth a bill – SB14 – that, while offering a place from which to start, must be strengthened in order to truly reduce harm and bring people home.