A new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that Philadelphia’s jail population decreased dramatically last year, due primarily to reductions among the number of individuals held pretrial and those held for alleged violations of their probation or parole.
These declines appear to be largely the result of new practices and procedures adopted by the various agencies that comprise the city’s criminal justice system—with the goal of making the system more efficient.
From 2009 to 2010, the annual average daily population in the Philadelphia Prison System fell 11 percent, down from 9,321 to 8,273. Early in 2011, the population dropped below 7,700. The monthly average crept back up to 8,048 in June.
Philadelphia’s jail population remains high on a per-capita basis compared to other jurisdictions. For the year ending June 30, 2010, the city had the fifth-highest rate of incarceration among the 50 jurisdictions in the country with the largest jail populations, according to an analysis of data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The Pew study, Philadelphia’s Less Crowded, Less Costly Jails: Taking Stock of a Year of Change and the Challenges That Remain, is a follow-up to a Pew report issued in May 2010 called Philadelphia’s Crowded, Costly Jails: The Search for Safe Solutions.