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Phila. Tribune: Philadelphia D.A.’s Office looks at parole reforms

Krasner also said he sees a direct correlation between the parole system in the city and gun violence because of the number of people under parole supervision that don’t need it and violent crime offenders who don’t get the proper attention.

“If you allow your probation and parole officers to spend their time on people who present a bona fide danger,” Krasner said, “if you allow that caseload to meet national standards and if you stop spending resources filling jails up with people who smoke weed seven years after they paid the price of a sentence, then you’re able to use those resources in ways that are protected for treatment or prevention for things that really, truly make a difference.”

Philadelphia was overloaded with cases of people on parole in 2018. According to Krasner, 40,000 people were on parole in Philadelphia County, compared to 12,000 in New York City.

“Philadelphia at that time was the most over-supervised big city in the United States of America,” Krasner said. “A place where we have national parks and landmarks dedicated to freedom. And even though tourists come here to see that when they walked down the street, to get to those landmarks and get to those parks, approximately one out of every nine African-American males they passed was currently on probation and parole, one out of every 23 Philadelphians was currently on probation.”

Krasner’s office is working toward new policies on parole in Philadelphia.

Sangeeta Prasad, a Stoneleigh Fellow who works with the District Attorney’s Office, said 27 states have successfully enacted legislation, enacted standards and reduced probation populations.

“So these policies are not meant to impact public safety, and they’ve been shown in many other jurisdictions that they will not negatively impact public safety. If anything, they may improve our safety in our communities,” Prasad said.

According to Keisha Hudson, incoming chief defender of the Philadelphia public defenders, the new policies help to stem mass incarceration.

“One of the important things that I think this policy gets to [is] the heart of mass incarceration and how do we impact mass incarceration, and the policy and particulars of this policy will have that impact,” Hudson said. “I’m thrilled that we are implementing this policy.”

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