Reuben Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Novoa email@example.com
Community Leaders Impacted By Mass Incarceration Call on Philadelphia’s Elected Officials to Invest Money Saved From Closing the House Of Corrections into Communities Most Harmed by the City’s Reliance on Incarceration
JANUARY 18. PHILADELPHIA, PA. Grassroots advocates demanding criminal justice reform and community reinvestment in Philadelphia held a Community Town Hall Thursday evening at the Zion Baptist Church in north Philadelphia. Led by the #CLOSEthecreek campaign, the Town Hall focused on what advocates call “an urgent need for the city to be accountable to communities harmed by incarceration and begin working toward transformation and healing.”
“Our community of advocates who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system demand change,” said Reuben Jones, #CLOSEthecreek coordinator. “Last year we brought our demand to empty out the House of Correction to the Mayor, and we secured a commitment from him to invest the $15 million savings from closure into our communities. Now the city must follow through. It’s long past time for City Leaders to repair the harm that the Creek and the criminal legal system have caused.”
Launched by JustLeadershipUSA in April 2018, the #CLOSEthecreek campaign is led by Reuben Jones along with other formerly incarcerated advocates from across the city. The campaign is advancing several key demands, including closing down the House of Corrections, drastically reducing the local prison population, ending electronic monitoring, and reinvesting all the savings generated from those reforms into locally-run, community-based services for returning community members.
The Town Hall tonight focused primarily on that final demand, as residents came together to discuss their vision for what community reinvestment should look like and their plans to hold elected officials accountable. Several local politicians were in attendance, including Senator Anthony Williams and Senator Sharif Street, each of whom has introduced legislation that would reform aspects of the criminal legal system. District Attorney Larry Krasner, was also in attendance and spoke about investing in restorative justice programs. Community leaders led the conversation on education, criminal legal reform and the need to build communities: Quamir Trice (Follow Greatness), Leroy Fisher (Hunting Park United), Kendra Brooks (Nicetown Standup), Eric Marsh (Nicetown NAS), and DeAnna Hoskins, President & CEO of JustLeadershipUSA.
JustLeadershipUSA and #CLOSEthecreek Community Organizer Bobby Harris spent several days canvassing the neighborhood to invite people to the Town Hall. “The goal was to bring the community members together with city officials and create an opportunity for dialogue. Policymakers need to understand what’s needed to develop communities that for decades have been decimated by crime, violence, addiction, unemployment, and neglect.”
Philadelphia – and Pennsylvania – have been at the center of criminal justice reform research and advocacy for years. Studies have shown that the rate of probation and parole supervision across the state far exceed the national average, and that more than half of the people who are in Philadelphia’s prisons are incarcerated because they’re being held on a parole detainer. Philadelphia is among the most incarcerated big cities in the United States, even as the city has experienced a significant decrease in incarceration over the past few years.
“The city has made progress,” says Jones, “but not enough. And progress is not the same as success. We’re glad to see some of loved ones coming home, but we know that far too many are still trapped in cages, or on electronic shackles, and far too many are living under the shadow of probation and parole. And our fight will continue until we dismantle those systems and invest every single dollar saved back into our communities.”
The #CLOSEthecreek campaign has several more events coming up, and people who want to learn more about the campaign can visit https://justleadershipusa.org/advocacy/#closethecreek.
The #CLOSEthecreek campaign was launched in March 2018 by JustLeadershipUSA. Led by directly-impacted individuals, the #CLOSEthecreek campaign has four demands: permanently close the House of Correction facility, cut the local prison population in half to no more than 3,000 people, end electronic monitoring, and reinvest savings in locally-run, community-based services for returning community members. Campaign partners include The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC), Frontline Dads, Youth Art Self-Empowerment Project (YASP), Healing Communities, Mothers in Charge, Philadelphia Student Union, The National Workforce Opportunity Network (NWON), X-Offenders for Community Empowerment and Women’s Center for Carceral Empowerment. Learn more at www.justleadershipusa.org/closethecreek/. Follow us at @CLOSEthecreek & facebook.com/CLOSEthecreek/.