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73% of People Released from Philadelphia Jails Discharged Without Their IDs, Cash, Phone and Other P

Each Night, Philly Jails Release Scores of Returning Citizens Without Returning Their IDs, Cash or Phone

Pranshu Verma - August 12, 2019

According to a new report by The Inquirer, 73% of all inmates released from Philadelphia jails from April 2017 to April 2018 — more than 16,000 prisoners — were discharged after the cashier’s offices had closed, leaving them without any identification, cash, phone or other possessions for hours or even days. The offices are closed on weekends.

Experts say the first 72 hours after a person is released are critical. Without identification and other possessions, simple things such as buying food, getting prescriptions, and putting a cell phone number down for a job interview or a landlord can prove impossible.

“You’re almost begging them to get into some kind of trouble,” said Tom Innes, director of prison services for the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

At Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia’s largest jail, the cashier’s office is open 12 hours a day, the longest of any Philadelphia facility. Still, more than 4,600 people, or 57%, were released after the office was closed.

At two facilities — Detention Center and Riverside Correctional Facility — the cashier’s offices close in the early afternoon, at either 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., putting 90% of those released on the street without their IDs or cash, an Inquirer analysis found.

“This is a humanitarian disaster,” said Ann Jacobs, the director of the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. “You’re screaming to them they don’t matter, you don’t care, and you just expect to have them come back anyway,” she said.

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