Wolf grants clemency to two more inmates, including first female lifer since 1990

December 20, 2018, Laura Benshoff - WHYY Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has commuted the sentences of three inmates who would otherwise die in prison, bringing the total number granted during his administration up to five. Benny Ortega, Tina Brosius, and Raymond Jordan had each served decades in state prison for offenses ranging from drug trafficking to first-degree murder. Under Wolf, they applied for clemency, riding a wave of hope that his administration would revive a rehabilitative process that had fallen out of favor. Brosius is the first woman who will be freed through commutation since 1990. Amid these victories, criminal justice reform advocates say the commutation process remains opaqu

The ACLU of PA is hiring a Legislative Associate (Harrisburg)

Legislative Associate (Harrisburg) The ACLU-PA seeks a legislative associate to help advance the ACLU-PA’s policy priorities through legislative, coalition, and program advocacy while engaging ACLU-PA members and supporters in the campaigns and policy work of the organization. Working under the direction of the legislative director, the legislative associate will be responsible for coordinating the ACLU-PA’s role and and participation in several local and statewide coalitions and will support the work of the ACLU-PA’s campaigns. The legislative associate will also assist with the development of and oversee a community lobbying training program and will assist in managing the core responsibil

ACLU of PA is hiring a Campaign for Smart Justice Organizer

Campaign for Smart Justice Organizer (Harrisburg or State College) The ACLU-PA is seeking an organizer in Central Pennsylvania to join its Campaign for Smart Justice team. The Campaign for Smart Justice is a multi-year advocacy campaign to reduce Pennsylvania’s jail and prison population by 50% while combating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Candidates should excel in building high-level relationships and community power through tactics such as creating partnerships with organizations already engaged in these efforts, lobbying officials, recruiting and developing volunteers, and engaging voters. People with personal experience being incarcerated or otherwise impacted by th

The man in charge of Pa.’s commutation system says it’s broken. Can it be fixed?

December 11, 2018, Samantha Melamed - The Philadelphia Inquirer For the last four years, Kathleen Brown, a University of Pennsylvania nursing professor emerita, has been traveling to Pennsylvania prisons with her students, helping men and women serving life sentences petition the state Board of Pardons for clemency, their only hope of seeing some years outside prison walls. Now, she’s contemplating quitting. “After thousands of hours of volunteering all this time in prisons, I can’t solicit hope from inmates if there isn’t any,” she said. “That’s just ethically wrong. I can’t do it, and I shouldn’t ask students to do it." After all her efforts — and under a Board of Pardons chaired by a lieu

200 elderly lifers got out of prison en masse. Here’s what happened next.

December 12, 2018, Samantha Melamed - The Philadelphia Inquirer Five years ago, nearly 200 elderly lifers were released from prison en masse — people who had been convicted and sentenced before 1981, under jury instructions that were found unconstitutional in the case Unger v. Maryland. It created a natural experiment: Was it safe to release all these one-time violent criminals? Or would they land right back in prison? (A group of members of the class of lifers known as Ungers, released after an average of 39 years in prison, due to flawed jury instructions. After about five years, the recidivism rate is below 4 percent/Photo from the Phildelphia Inquirer) The results are in, according to a

OICA is seeking a Fiscal Coordinator

OIC of America Job Title: Fiscal Coordinator Supervisor: Controller Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits Package FSLA Status: Exempt, Full-time Regular Location: Philadelphia, PA POSITION SUMMARY: OICA is hiring a Fiscal Coordinator to work with the OICA national re-entry program, Skills and Opportunities for Achievement and Responsibility (SOAR), to review, track, and monitor expenses to ensure alignment with the policies and procedures which govern the grants. A major part of the Coordinator’s responsibilities will be to review and audit the financial accounts of each sub-grantee on the SOAR program. The Coordinator will also provide a variety of routine fiscal, financial, statistical a

OICA is seeking a Director of Partnerships

OIC of America Job Title: Director of Partnerships Supervisor: Senior Director of Operations and Strategy Salary: $57,000 - $65,000 + Competitive Benefits Package FSLA Status: Exempt, Full-time Regular Location: Philadelphia, PA MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelor’s Degree in Business/ Public Administration, Communications, Criminology, or any related field. Master’s Degree preferred (MBA, MPA, MPP, MSW, or MA/MS in related field). 5 or more years’ experience building strategic relationships. Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills. Ability to work effectively with people of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds from individuals returning from incarceration to pu

Our Closet's Winter Pop-Up Schedule

Our Closet operates FREE pop-up shops featuring clothing and accessories for men, women, and children throughout Philadelphia! • All are welcome, NO REFERRALS NECESSARY! • All pop-ups are open from 10am-12pm • Shoppers are entitled to shop at one pop-up shop per week • Clothing is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis • 5 item limit per adult shopper (age 16 and up) • All items are free, including professional/casual wear, children/infant clothing, as well as shoes, accessories and costume jewelry • We cannot guarantee specific sizes or styles, and inventory changes from week to week Access the Winter Pop-Up Schedule Here!

Suit: Drop 'good moral character' cosmetologist requirement

December 12, 2018, Kristen De Groot - The Philadelphia Inquirer Is good moral character required to wax eyebrows and give facials? In the state of Pennsylvania it is, and two women denied licenses to work as cosmetologists because they ran afoul of that regulation are challenging the law in court. Courtney Haveman and Amanda Spillane filed suit on Tuesday, with the help of non-profit law firm the Institute for Justice, claiming the state's good moral character requirement for cosmetologists is unfair and unconstitutional. The women both suffered from addictions in the past, which led to criminal records, they said. Haveman said her addiction to alcohol led to a number of misdemeanor infracti

City of Philadelphia releases Philadelphia Neighborhood Resource Centers (NRCs) Request for Informat

The City of Philadelphia issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit ideas, information, and interest from potential City partners, providers and coordinators at “Neighborhood Resource Centers” (NRCs) throughout Philadelphia. Philadelphia plans to create a network of NRCs, community hubs that reduce barriers for people under county supervision and provide a broad range of services to support holistic reintegration, restoration, and wellness. The RFI and related appendix are available at: Posting of RFI – December 13, 2018 Questions on RFI due – December 21, 2018 (5:00 pm Local Philadelphia Time) Responses to questions provided – December 28, 2018 (5:00 pm Loc

Holiday card campaign to Gov. Wolf calls for repeal of Pa.'s new prison mail policy

December 12, 2018, Sara Hoover - WHYY An annual card-making event in Philadelphia was filled with holiday cheer, but some people were crafting greetings they say are meant for “a big, bad Wolf.” [A grinch Governor Wolf appears on a flyer inviting Philadelphians to create holiday cards to send to Governor Wolf asking him to end a DOC policy that doesn’t allow families to send cards of photos to incarcerated family members. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)] Those cards are going to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to protest the Department of Corrections’ new mail policy. Dozens of community members and families worked on holiday cards at the Village of Arts & Humanities in North Philadelphia on Germanto

Opinion: PA’s new sentencing algorithm is a weapon of mass incarceration

December 11, 2018, Reuben Jones - Billy Penn What did Walt Whitman mean when he wrote “I am large, I contain multitudes”? The famous words have many interpretations, and one of them is expressed in this quote from Bryan Stevenson, the groundbreaking civil rights lawyer: “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system should look at people like me as containing those multitudes — instead of just as a statistic. Right now, the Pa. Commission on Sentencing is getting ready to do just that: to turn people convicted of crimes into ones and zeroes. The commission was given a legislative mandate to build an algorithm to help judges sentence convicte

PRC's Fall Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting Synopsis

On October 24, 2018 the Philadelphia Reentry Coalition hosted a packed room for its Fall 2018 Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting. ​The meeting started with a brief preview of the Member and Providers Survey from the Coalition's director, Aviva Tevah. The Preview highlighted data from last year's survey, including an examination of distribution of program sites across Philadelphia's zip-codes, a snapshot of our Following the presentation, consultant Erica Atwood presented on the City's "Neighborhood Resource Centers" initiative. Over 100 people representing more than 65 organizations and agencies heard about the Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) initiative (formerly referred to as Community Resou

Innocent — and stuck in prison for life? Philly juvenile lifers face a Catch 22

December 9, 2018, Samantha Melamed - The Philadelphia Inquirer First, there was the chaotic din of shouting and street noise. Then, David Sparks’ voice crackled onto the 911 recording. “Somebody got shot. Somebody’s possibly dying — he’s possibly dying on Bouvier Street.” It was Sept. 4, 2006, Labor Day, and a Nicetown block party was pushing midnight. Teenagers, drunk on the dregs of summer, milled in and out of a corner Chinese takeout, ordering food through the Plexiglas. There had been a confrontation involving a 19-year-old man named Gary Hall. Someone had pulled a gun, firing at him as he rode away on a girl’s bicycle. “He might be dead. He might be dying." At first, bystanders wondere

CLS Releases "Legal Remedies and Limitations: Employment of People with Criminal Records in Pen

This revised document that details the legal restrictions regarding hiring and occupational licensing when someone has a criminal conviction in Pennsylvania. It includes some legal remedies as well. Many thanks to Janet Ginzberg at Community Legal Services for updating the document. NOTE HOWEVER: The landscape changes constantly, so please make sure to tell anyone you share it with that there is always something in it that is out of date! (Click to access the complete document) Another resource that includes both federal and state limitations on employment (and other matters) for people with convictions is the national clearinghouse on collateral consequences – a searchable database: https:

PCCD is currently seeking peer reviewers! *paid opportunity*

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) is currently seeking peer reviewers for grant applications received, or to be received, from school entities in Pennsylvania requesting funding in support of a wide range of enhancements designed to improve the overall safety and security of schools and school communities. There will be two separate scoring groups for these competitive grant applications. One group will focus on school safety and security, including both physical safety and behavioral health concerns; the other will focus on strategies employed to reduce overall community violence. PCCD is seeking reviewers with significant experience in relevant areas such as

How Incarcerated Parents Are Losing Their Children Forever

December 2, 2018, By Eli Hager and Anna Flagg - The Marshall Project in Partnership with the Washington Post Lori Lynn Adams was a mother of four living in poverty when Hurricane Floyd struck eastern North Carolina in 1999, flooding her trailer home and destroying her children’s pageant trophies and baby pictures. No stranger to money-making scams, Adams was convicted of filing a fraudulent disaster-relief claim with FEMA for a property she did not own. She also passed dozens of worthless checks to get by. Adams served two year-long prison stints for these “blue-collar white-collar crimes,” as she calls them. Halfway through her second sentence, with her children — three toddlers and a 14-ye

Punishing poverty: How Philly’s cash bail system does more harm than good | Opinion

December 3, 2018, Malcolm Jenkins - The Philadelphia Inquirer Our money bail system is a travesty. Every day in Philadelphia, people who are accused but not convicted of a crime are held in jail not because they are guilty, but because they are too poor to purchase their freedom. Judges here routinely put a price on a person's liberty, and it is often one they cannot afford. One in four people is assigned money bail of $50,000 or more. I've witnessed this system firsthand, when my teammates and I watched bail hearings in the basement of the Criminal Justice Center. The stakes at these hearings could not be higher: the chance to fight for your freedom outside a jail or time in a cage; release

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