After more than two years of escalating staff shortages, prolonged lockdowns, and heightened violence at the Philadelphia jails, the city has pledged in court to address those conditions under the watch of an independent monitor.
In a settlement agreement filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, the city committed to paying hiring and retention bonuses for correctional officers and increasing incarcerated people’s time out of their cells to at least four hours a day by May 15.
“It’s a significant step forward,” said David Rudovsky, one of a team of civil rights lawyers representing incarcerated people in a class-action lawsuit filed in April 2020. “Both sides agree that it’s best to return the prison systems to normal operations. The agreement provides benchmarks and support in terms of a monitor to get there, and it also provides the possibility of sanctions.”
The agreement, pending approval by Senior U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller, proposes to keep the jails under the court’s jurisdiction for two more years.
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