The city set aside $500,000 for the payments at the beginning of the pandemic. About 900
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia reduced its jail population for safety reasons during the pandemic, and it is making payments to those who were released in the hopes of helping them stay out of jail.
The city set aside $500,000 for the payments at the beginning of the pandemic. About 900 people have received a one-time $500 payment so far, and the city has budgeted for 300 more.
Erica Atwood, director of criminal justice and public safety in the Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, said the city didn’t want to release people and create a worse situation by leaving them without any resources.
“Folks were coming out without jobs, without assets, without resources, and we wanted to make sure that by doing a good thing, by reducing the prison population, we weren’t creating another issue by leaving folks out there to fend for themselves,” she explained.
It’s not a lot, but with some cash in their pockets, Atwood said they could eat or get back and forth to work or a job interview.
So far, Atwood said the payments have been well-received. In fact, they are helping the city build trust and make connections to social services, now that in-person resources have returned.
She said the city is even looking into this as a type of pilot project — establishing a basic universal income as a way to reduce crime.
The city is still accepting applications for the payments here.