November 4, 2015 |
JAMELLA PARKS had been hooked on drugs for nearly three decades before she tried to sneak $68.52 worth of toiletries out of a Logan Rite Aid in January. It was far from her first arrest: Her record is riddled with crimes, mostly misdemeanors like prostitution and shoplifting, she committed to feed an addiction she couldn't shake. This time, though, the arrest would be her death sentence. Although she could have been freed on just $300 cash bail, the 43-year-old North Philly woman instead spent nearly six months behind bars before dying, in custody, of cancer.
July 15, 2015 |
As New York City prepares to do away with cash bail for thousands of low-level offenders charged with nonviolent crimes, Jim Kenney is weighing a bail proposal for Philadelphia, part of a broader plan to address the city's overcrowded prisons in the event that he wins the mayor's office this fall. Kenney's campaign spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, declined to provide details on what he is considering. But she said Kenney, who in May won the Democratic nomination for mayor, is looking to reduce the city's prison population while ending what she called "the epidemic of nonviolent offenders being kept in prison because of their inability to make nominal bails.
May 29, 2015
ONE PIECE of good news this week was the $150,000 grant the MacArthur Foundation gave to the Philadelphia prison system to study ways to shrink the population in city jails. The timing couldn't be better. Council is set to deliberate a bill to purchase a tract of land near the Delaware River to build a new city jail with the stated aim of replacing the city's 90-year-old House of Correction, which houses 1,500 inmates in crowded conditions. Some are protesting the site for the prison - along an increasingly valuable and active stretch of riverfront.
November 24, 2014 |
FRED AVERY JR. is a convicted murderer with a long, violent rap sheet, so it's unlikely that many people were surprised when he allegedly stabbed three prison guards at a city jail last Monday as they tried to subdue him after he fought with his cellmate. But what did surprise some was that Avery was still in jail - and not in a mental institution in Norristown. Arrested 19 months ago, the 49-year-old Ogontz man remains in a legal limbo because of his mental status. He's been declared incompetent to stand trial - but has been waiting for nine months for space to open up at Norristown State Hospital, where he must be treated before his competency can be re-evaluated.
November 21, 2014 |
As security guard Carlos Cadiz walked down the sixth-floor hallway around 2:30 a.m. making his nightly rounds, the air around him started to feel cooler, denser. He fought back an overwhelming feeling that someone was striding along with him, close but not quite touching his arm. Suddenly, a locked door leading to the old jail started rattling violently. "I just ran for the elevator," said Cadiz, a guard at Camden City Hall. "I got out of there fast as I could. " This month, with the help of 10 paranormal investigators who blanketed the sixth floor with spirit-detection technology, Cadiz was introduced to his walking mate.
January 8, 2014 |
THE MORNING OF FEB. 7, Rasheed Kellam had a full schedule. He picked up his tax-refund check, visited his doctor, cashed the check, checked in with his parole officer, grabbed his blood-pressure medication from Rite Aid and got a hot dog at 7-Eleven. Then, steps outside his Feltonville home, he got arrested. For nearly a year, he sat in a city jail, unsure why exactly. In that time, a secret grand jury investigated and eventually indicted him in a home-invasion robbery targeting a couple who lived a half-mile away from him. An easy alibi Two months before his trial, prosecutors sent Kellam's lawyer the evidence they had against him - which became the key to his exoneration.
April 16, 2013 |
NEW ORLEANS - A political brawl has broken out between the mayor and a sheriff who runs the city jail, which has come under scrutiny for a video showing inmates using drugs, drinking beer, and handling a gun. Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked a judge last week to take the extraordinary step of placing the jail under federal oversight, effectively wresting control away from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Landrieu is upset over an agreement Gusman reached with the U.S. Justice Department to reform the jail, saying the city, which funds the jail, can't afford the potential expense.
March 20, 2012 |
The Nutter administration has won a significant concession on city pensions in an arbitration proceeding with the city's 2,000 prison guards. The neutral arbitrator in the case, Richard Kasher, ruled late last week that new hires in the bargaining unit may be forced to join a hybrid pension plan, created by the city to hold down costs. The hybrid plan provides a limited defined benefit for city employees, no more than 25 percent of the worker's final average salary, supplemented by an investment plan, similar to a 401(k)
July 22, 2011
IT'S ALWAYS been folly to use the size of the prison population as a barometer for criminal activity, and District Attorney Seth Williams' efforts to reform the broken justice system over the past two years underscore that point. A new report from Pew's Philadelphia Research Initiative affirms that Williams' approach to sentencing and prosecuting has led to a decline in the city's jail population. A small drop in violent crime is a factor in that reduction but much more significant are the reforms to a system that seemed designed to drive as many people as possible into jail.
April 14, 2011 |
For the second time in less than a month, a jailhouse incident has injected drama into the criminal cases of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell and his wife, Pearl, accused along with eight former employees of running a filthy West Philadelphia clinic where a patient and seven newborns allegedly died at the doctor's hands. In the latest incident, city prosecutors used a subpoena instead of a warrant last week to have Pearl's jail cell searched - an illegal action, according to Michael Medway, the defendant's attorney.