Philadelphia prison vocational program criticized for losing money

The correctional complex on State Road in Philadelphia.

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.

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“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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