Statement From JustLeadershipUSA On Mayor Jim Kenney’s Announcing That Philadelphia Will Close The House of Correction

April 18, 2018

For years, formerly incarcerated people, their loved ones, and communities of color subjected to mass criminalization advocated for the city of Philadelphia – one of the most incarcerated cities in the United States – to close the House of Correction, known locally as The Creek. Led by formerly incarcerated leaders and in partnership with an effective powerful movement of grassroots organizations, JustLeadershipUSA organized over several months to build the #CLOSEthecreek campaign to further amplify directly impacted voices and demand that the City: #CLOSEthecreek within two years; cut the overall jail population in half; end the expansion of electronic monitoring; and reinvest savings from population reduction and facility closure into locally-run, community-based services for returning community members.

Mayor Jim Kenney’s decision to close The Creek is a significant step in this movement to decarcerate Philadelphia, and demonstrates that decarceration is possible. This moment holds promise for a better future.

We know that the Mayor’s announcement today is just the beginning. The Creek must be permanently shuttered; it must be demolished or structurally altered so that it can never again cage human beings. The City must act transparently in partnership with the community to ensure a process that both engages impacted people and operates with fidelity. The perspective of harmed communities is what has driven this movement, and what must guide the City as it seeks to #CLOSEthecreek and repair the harm that has been and is still being caused by Philadelphia’s reliance on mass incarceration.

“JustLeadershipUSA responded to the leadership of advocates in Philadelphia, who made very clear that the House of Correction had no excuse to still be standing. Today’s announcement by Mayor Kenney that the city plans to close this facility is an important acknowledgment of the tremendous harm and trauma that this jail has caused. We congratulate the Mayor for doing the right thing, and look forward to furthering Philadelphia’s important efforts to effectively address its incarceration crisis.” — Brent J. Cohen, ​Interim Chief Executive Officer & Vice President JustLeadershipUSA

“Closing the House of Correction is an important step in decarcerating Philadelphia and it is a victory that we achieved in partnership with local communities that have been organizing for decades. Now the City must continue to confront how its own policies have historically contributed to this human rights crisis – the changes it makes must be so unequivocal that they cannot be undone. We are accountable to directly impacted communities that have been harmed by mass criminalization and we are accountable to constructing a better future for our children. Our campaign to #CLOSEthecreek has additional demands that must be met: we are looking to the City to cut the local prison population in half to no more than 3,000 people, to end the expansion of an already unchecked correctional reach through electronic monitoring, and to invest in locally-run, community-based services for returning community members.” –Reuben Jones, Philadelphia Campaign Coordinator, JustLeadershipUSA