05/17/2010 - Philadelphia's prison population can be reduced without jeopardizing public safety if policymakers find ways to keep low-level offenders awaiting trial out of jail and continue to streamline the criminal-justice process, a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says.
In its study, "Philadelphia's Crowded, Costly Jails: The Search for Safe Solutions," released today, Pew's Philadelphia Research Institute found that the rise in county inmate numbers from 1999 to 2008 was driven largely by the number of inmates awaiting trial - and not by convicted criminals.
Without steps to trim the size of the city's jail population, the "gains the city has made in controlling the jail population may be hard to maintain," said Larry Eichel, project director of the Philadelphia Research Institute, who edited the report.
The Pew report also suggested that more inmates in Philadelphia could be released without bail while awaiting trial and said that magistrates here follow bail guidelines in only about half the cases.
Read the full article, Pew Report: City Prison Population Can be Reduced, Safely on the Philadelphia Daily News Web site.