Jail population up after two-year fall
The Philadelphia jail population,
which had been falling the last two years, is on the rise. Every month
this year, the average daily population in the city prison system has been higher
than the corresponding month in 2011—it was 8,732 in June, up 8.5 percent from
a year earlier—although still well below the highs of 2008 and 2009.
According to Philadelphia Prisons spokeswoman Shawn
Hawes, two changes in bail practice are at least partially responsible. One is
that individuals brought in on bench warrants, usually for failure to make
court appearances, now get automatic contempt charges that result in increased
bail. The other is that the court system, at the urging of Mayor Michael Nutter,
has made higher bail for gun possession charges a priority. The jail
population, which rose from about 6,600 in 1999 to 9,400 in 2008, was the focus
of our 2010 report,
Philadelphia’s Crowded, Costly Jails: The
Search for Safe Solutions.
Some elements of the bail system are slated for
revision. As part of a plan to revise its pre-trial handling of individuals
accused of crimes, the Philadelphia court system has announced it will overhaul bail guidelines that are intended to determine
who gets bail and how high it is set. This overhaul was one of the key policy options
spelled out in our report; we noted that the guidelines, also known
as the risk assessment tool, had not been updated since the mid-1990s and were being
followed by magistrates in only 50 percent of the cases. We concluded that a “transformed bail-guideline tool would have the potential of increasing the
percentage of defendants who show up for court and reducing the number of
pretrial admissions to jail.”
The cost of crime
Two researchers from the Washington-based Center for
American Progress have tried to quantify all of the direct and indirect costs
of violent crime—governmental, social and economic — for Philadelphia and
seven other big cities. Philadelphia’s total bill comes to $3.7 billion per year,
according to Robert J. Shapiro and Kevin A. Hassett, authors of The Economic Benefits of Reducing Violent
Crime. The total includes such items as the damage
done to property values in a high-crime neighborhood and the lost earnings of
victims and perpetrators alike. The analysis indicates that a 25 percent
reduction in violent crime would save taxpayers $42 million per year in direct
City outpaces region
Between April 2010 and July 2011, Philadelphia was one of a number of
major cities that grew faster than the rest of their metropolitan areas. Pew’s American
Cities Project has released a brief and interactive graphic exploring this
trend, which is a reversal of years past. The project is a partnership between
the Pew Center on the States and the Philadelphia Research Initiative.
Metro economy lags in recovery
There’s new evidence that the Philadelphia region’s economy,
after faring relatively well during the recession, has struggled
since then. According to the Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor,
the performance of the regional economy ranked 94th among the
nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas during the first three months of 2012.
This low rating on Brookings’ “overall recovery ranking” was primarily due to
the relatively small number of jobs created in the area and the relatively
small drop in the unemployment rate. Among nearby regions, Washington came in
at number 36, Baltimore 39, Allentown 62, New York 63 and Lancaster 73.
In a separate report,
the McKinsey Global Institute looked at how the nation’s largest metropolitan
areas changed in terms of economic output between 1978 and 2010. Philadelphia,
which is now the sixth largest region in terms of population, fell from fourth
to seventh in total output, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington,
Houston and Dallas.
Jobs and the people who do them
At least three efforts are under way or coming to fruition to
change workforce development, job training and job preparedness for the city’s labor
force. July 1 marked the formal launch of Philadelphia
Works Inc., successor to the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp. and
the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board. As detailed in our January report,
the new nonprofit is, among other things, managing the outsourcing of the CareerLink system, which helps
roughly 100,000 residents find and train for jobs each year. On another front, City
Council last month appropriated $500,000 for the voter-approved Jobs Commission
to “examine the issue of unemployment and ways to improve the city's work
force,” as reported by the Daily
News. The third effort is the World Class Greater Philadelphia
initiative, led by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. The United Way
last month announced that it would invest an undetermined amount of money to
implement some of the initiative’s workforce development and education goals.
Libraries to inform PA voters
In our report on the Free Library of Philadelphia earlier
this year, we made the point that libraries often fulfill a
“shadow mandate,” supporting and complementing the work of other public
agencies, in many cases without those agencies' knowledge. Here’s one example where an agency has enlisted libraries in a formal partnership. It concerns the new state law
requiring voters to bring valid photo ID to the polls on Election Day. The
Pennsylvania Department of State is using the state’s 632 public libraries to distribute fliers about the new requirement. “Libraries have always been places
Pennsylvanians came to get information important to their lives,” explained Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele.
Philly has more farmers' markets
In ranking the health and fitness of the 50
largest metropolitan areas, the American College of Sports Medicine found that the Philadelphia area has more farmers' markets per capita than a lot of other regions. This Flickr slideshow captures some of the fresh food on offer to Philadelphians.
Philadelphia 2012 Update: The State of the City. This bi-annual update to our popular State of the City report found a city in transition on a number of fronts—with familiar problems and one promising demographic trend. Printed copies of the 2011 full edition are still
available, free of charge. To request one, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and postal address.
The Library in the City: Changing Demands and a Challenging Future, our March report, drew attention in Philadelphia and across the country to the role of urban libraries as one-stop, multipurpose community centers. These institutions face a daunting road ahead even as they provide a greater number of services to city residents.
The portion of Philadelphia businesses with fewer than 100 employees, which in 2010 ticked up to its highest level in a decade, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census.
|Upcoming Public Events
July 12: Philadelphia Board of Health. Details here.
July 17: Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board meeting. Details here.
July 17: Philadelphia Regional Port Authority monthly board meeting. Details here.
July 18: Philadelphia Board of Ethics meeting. Details here.
July 18: Delaware River Port Authority board meeting. Details here.
July 23: Ben Franklin Parkway action plan meeting. Details here.
Through July 30:Tours of Free Library locations. More details here.
August 14 : Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority board meeting. Details here.
|Our Most-Read Reports
The Library in the City: Changing
Demands and a Challenging Future. Read.
Philadelphia: State of the City 2012.
City Councils in Philadelphia and Other Major Cities. Read.