To help those getting out of prison, a Philadelphia City Council Committee is moving some money out of the prison budget.
A bill under consideration would take $500,000 from that budget and move it to a program that outs former offenders to work cleaning vacant lots.
Council President Darrell Clarke said the goal is designed to help the “returning citizens,” as Mayor Michael Nutter calls the former inmates, become productive citizens.
“Sometimes, if you spend money on the front side in a targeted way, you actually reduce the cost associated with the penal system,” Clarke said. “You also create productive citizens in the city of Philadelphia because, by and large, most of the individuals find themselves with challenges in their lives because of the lack of choice.”
Sharif Street, son of former Mayor John Street, is chairman of the board of one group that does these cleanups. The program teaches job skills and helps residents, Street said.
“We do one to teach discipline for the clients and to enhance the community,” he said. “It’s a service that I think would benefit both budgetarily and in terms of the community impact.”
The bill now heads to the full council for approval.