Kenney hopes to close House of Correction as part of prison population cut

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The House of Correction is old and outdated. It's 666 cells are arranged in a spoke-and-hub configuration. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The House of Correction is old and outdated. It's 666 cells are arranged in a spoke-and-hub configuration. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

With designs on closing a jail, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney toured one such facility Monday.

Kenney decided to visit the prison complex because he wants to close the House of Correction, which was built in 1927.  He thinks closing down the old facility will be possible thanks to a new $3.5 million MacArthur Foundation grant aimed at cutting the number of inmates in Philadelphia jails.

“It’s to reinforce what I already knew, that this building is old … I wouldn’t call it dilapidated, it’s just old and just needs not to be used a prison anymore,” Kenney said Monday. “And with the MacArthur grant to get through our situation and reduce the population, this building can be put away as part of history.”

Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney said the facility, albeit old, is functional.

“This facility is running, it’s managed well,” she said. “The inmates are safe they receive a variety of programs and services.”

The MacArthur grant will help Philadelphia keep appropriate nonviolent offenders out of the criminal justice system, move those already in prison more quickly back to the community, and use alternatives to prison.

The city’s goal is to cut the prison population of about 7,500 inmates by a third as well as addressing the racial disparity of a prison system overwhelmingly populated by people  of color.

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