Philly jails see increase in women who are incarcerated, move to consolidate population

Prison officials say the move is designed to maximize efficiency behind prison walls. They say it will also allow more women to have visitors.

Female inmates interact in their cell in this file photo. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo, Pool)

Female inmates interact in their cell in this file photo. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo, Pool)

The Philadelphia Department of Prisons is reorganizing its population in order to fully use its space to maximum efficiency.

Starting Wednesday, women who are currently incarcerated at the Alternative and Special Detention Central Unit at 8101 State Road will be transferred to the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center  at 8301 State Road. The move is a return to where women had been held prior to the opening of the Riverside Correctional Facility in 2004.

“The move was designed to “most effectively house and manage the incarcerated population,” prisons commissioner Blanche Carney said in a statement.

In an interview with WHYY, Commissioner Carney added, “As we’ve seen, the population is increasing. When you’re looking at population management, this was an opportunity where we said, listen, we’re above 300. We’re not seeing this number decrease. So it makes sense to consolidate the population at one facility now.”

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The units where the women will be housed are separate and secure from the male population at PICC and services will also follow the women to their new location.

The move will also expand the number of visitation slots for the women, Carney said.

“The female population had 36 slots per day to visit. This transfer will increase that to 60 slots per day Monday through Friday. “

Moving the women gives the prisons an opportunity to move the younger incarcerated population to the area where the women were formerly housed, giving them a place of their own, Carney said.

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The decision will consolidate the youthful population in a smaller area, but a statement from the Department of Prisons says the space will be able to handle any increase in their census.

“We’re continuously looking at the population, managing it, making sure that we are housing individuals safely, efficiently, and doing it in a fiscal responsible manner,” Carney said. “So I think this is going to really be good for the women that we can increase these visiting slots. I know how important it is for incarcerated people to maintain contact with their loved ones. So just the fact that we can increase those visiting slots. That’s an initial win right off the bat here with this transfer.”

The transfers should be complete by the end of the week.

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