City Council passed a resolution introduced by Councilman David Oh on Thursday authorizing an investigation into prioritizing prison space for violent offenders and those arrested with illegal guns and looking for alternative places to house nonviolent and low-risk offenders.
“When we look at crime in Philadelphia, I know we need to have long-term solutions, including education and culture change, but that takes place years from now,” Oh said. “People need solutions to make streets and neighborhoods safe today.”
Housing nonviolent criminals in outpatient and treatment facilities will free up space to ensure that high-risk offenders receive a speedy trial and aren’t given the opportunity to become fugitives or continue committing street crimes as their cases are delayed by lengthy continuances or as they wait to be sentenced, according to Oh.
“It will let police and prosecutors know that there is room to lock up violent offenders,” he said. “With the court system right now, we arrest fellows with illegal weapons and guns, then set them free the next day.”
The initiative will also save money — each prisoner at a maximum security facility costs taxpayers $114.86 per day, while at alternative centers, offenders are required to pay their own room and board, Oh said.
Prioritizing prison face space for violent criminals will also be beneficial for nonviolent offenders themselves.
“They can receive educational services and do cleaning and greening work,” he said.