PHILADELPHIA – The City’s criminal justice partners today launched the application process for a new Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that will serve as a bridge between government policymakers and local communities and facilitate dialogue about criminal justice reform in Philadelphia.
The creation of the Advisory Committee is one of 30 initiatives supported by grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge. The grants, awarded in 2016 and 2018, will allow the City’s criminal justice and community stakeholders to continue advancing local reform efforts. The larger goals of the effort are to safely reduce Philadelphia’s jail population and reduce racial, ethnic, and economic disparities in the criminal justice system.
To date, the City has implemented 24 of the 30 initiatives in its Safety and Justice Challenge reform plan and reduced the size of the local jail population by 41% since 2015. This, in turn, allowed the Department of Prisons to close the aging House of Correction without the need to construct a new jail. While the jail population has decreased significantly, the rate of racial and ethnic disparities has not changed — and this is a primary focus of the initiatives supported by the second round of funding.
“Community voices need to have a greater role in the reform effort,” said Mayor Kenney. “With the launch of the Community Advisory Committee, the City and its criminal justice agencies acknowledge the importance of working with directly impacted communities to further reduce the number of people in jail while ensuring community safety. I thank the MacArthur Foundation for their ongoing generosity.”
The CAC will be comprised of up to 25 members who are over the age of 18, residents of Philadelphia, and are either directly impacted by or have significant experience with the criminal justice system. According to Malik Bandy, Community Engagement Coordinator for Philadelphia’s Safety and Justice Challenge work, “Those most affected by the criminal justice system, both directly and indirectly, have a unique perspective. They have insights that are priceless and that should be part of our process to reform the system.”
The CAC Application can be found here. The Application process will close on July 10, 2019. Committee membership will be formally announced in the fall.
“The CAC will be a working committee designed to inform the reform effort and usher in a new voice with a deep perspective on the criminal justice system,” said District Attorney Larry Krasner. “Members of the Committee will bring knowledge of Philadelphia, across neighborhoods, races, ethnicities, genders, education levels, and professions. This shared investment will broaden the City’s commitment to reform and will allow for a stronger bridge with our communities.”
To foster more meaningful community engagement in the reform effort, the Community Advisory Committee will be established with the following goals:
- Advise government agencies on what’s most important to people impacted by the criminal justice system directly.
- Provide criminal justice partners with concrete ways to further the reform effort and actively respond to feedback.
- Include diverse perspectives on criminal justice reform by drawing on community experience and knowledge.
- Encourage transparency and accountability regarding reform efforts within criminal justice partner agencies.
“Community plays a huge role in supporting people navigating the justice system and in re-entry. But for too long, community has been left out of larger conversations about reform,” said Keir Bradford-Grey, Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. “This advisory committee will bring essential perspectives to the table. Who better to help guide the City’s criminal justice reform efforts than those who have had direct involvement with the system? We look forward to working with and learning from the members of this committee.”
Philadelphia was first selected to join the Safety and Justice Challenge Network in 2015. The City has since used the resources and funding provided by the Challenge to implement bold reforms, including efforts to reduce pretrial incarceration, improve case processing times, decrease violations of probation, and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.
The Safety and Justice Challenge is supporting local leaders in Philadelphia and across the country who are determined to tackle one of the greatest drivers of mass incarceration in America – the misuse and overuse of jails. The City and its Criminal Justice Partners understand the reform effort must be a partnership between government and community, sharing the responsibility for change. More information about the work underway in Philadelphia can be found on https://www.phila.gov/programs/philadelphia-safety-and-justice-challenge/ as well as on www.SafetyandJusticeChallenge.org.
MEDIA CONTACT FOR PARTNER AGENCIES:
For the City of Philadelphia: Mike Dunn, email@example.com, 215-686-6210
For District Attorney Larry Krasner: Jane Roh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-686-8711
For the First Judicial District: Gabriel Roberts, email@example.com, 215-686-2893
For the Defender Association of Philadelphia: Mandy Nace, firstname.lastname@example.org, 267-765-6319