November 9, 2018, Laura Seabrooks and Sino Esthappan - Urban Institute
The Philadelphia Reentry Coalition is in its fourth year of the Home for Good initiative. Through better system wide coordination, the ambitious citywide effort aims to slash Philadelphia’s high recidivism rates for people returning from jails and prisons by 25 percent in five years. With rates as high as 34 percent in 2015, the city and the coalition had a lot of work ahead of them to reach their target by 2020.
In the past three years, Philadelphia has made great progress toward reforming its criminal justice system, which was plagued with incarceration rates well above Pennsylvania and national averages and growing racial and ethnic disparities.
The passage of criminal justice legislation, created in part thanks to grassroots advocacy and the election of a new district attorney, have added momentum to the city’s ongoing efforts to develop alternatives to cash bail, decriminalize low-level offenses like marijuana possession, and divert people charged with low-level crimes to specialty courts—just a few strategies among a long list of planned reforms.
All this bodes well for justice-involved Philadelphians, but as the Home for Good initiative enters its final two years, what more could be done to make reentry more successful and sustainable? Research and history illustrate the importance of including in the decision-making process those most affected by outcomes.