How to cut Philadelphia’s prison population

    How to make sure people come back for trial without keeping them in jail

    A new report by the Pew Trust says Philadelphia’s prison population can be reduced without jeopardizing public safety.

    The report says keeping low-level offenders out of jails while awaiting trial is one way to cut the prison population dramatically. Seth Williams is Philadelphia’s District Attorney. He says he’s already working on ways to deal with pre-trial detention.

    “And it might be that we have many people there for violations of probation and parole or maybe some people there pre-trial that we can find alternative means to change their behavior it’s not the severity of punishment, it’s the certainty of punishment. I’m looking forward to a full discussion with people about the Pew Charitable Trust study.”

    Williams says he’s been working with the courts to make sure people get a speedy trial and set up special courts to divert cases that can be handled quickly. He also changed some marijuana offenses into summary offenses so that violators will get what amounts to a fine instead of a possible jail sentence.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.