Philadelphia prison vocational program criticized for losing money

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A new report by the City Controller says the Philadelphia prison system is losing money on a trades program that is supposed to be self-supporting.

The report is about PhilCor, which most recently is known for making a chair for Pope Francis. City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the program is running at a deficit.

“Although this is a very valuable program and gives inmates valuable experience in the trades, they are spending more money on the program than they are making, there’s a pricing problem and a little bit of the problem in the managing of the money. I think they make deposits once a month,” Butkovitz said.

Shawn Hawes of the Philadelphia Prison System says they are taking the controller’s recommendations to heart and implementing them.

“We’ve already executed and implemented most of the suggestions make in the report so we are going forward there.”

Those suggestions include running the program more like a business and toghter oversight of finances.

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