Philadelphia Prosecutors Must Share the Cost of Prison Time Inside Court During Case Sentencing

When Philadelphia prosecutors stand before a judge and ask for a prison sentence, they must now disclose how much it will cost the city, according to a new policy announced by District Attorney Larry Krasner Thursday afternoon.

The policy is meant to discourage mass incarceration and encourage meaningful sentencing that will benefit the community at large, he said. 

Safety concerns and the impact to both victims' and defendants' families should also be disclosed during sentencing, Krasner added.

“Our state's and city's over-incarceration has bankrupted investment in policing, public education, medical treatment of addiction, job training, and economic development - all of which prevents crime better than correctional funding,” Krasner said.

The average cost of keeping one person in Philadelphia’s prison system is between $42,000 and $60,000 annually, according to the district attorney's office. By comparison, the average salary of a first-year public school teacher, police officer or firefighter is $41,000, he added.

Meanwhile, the median household income in Philadelphia is also $41,000, according to a 2017 report by Pew Charitable Trust.

“Ultimately, every dollar spent on incarceration comes from taxpayers and is money that cannot be spent on other social needs,” he said.

Krasner’s announcement is the latest in a slew of policy changes his office has made since January. The former civil rights lawyer also ended cash bail for low-level offenders, appointed a new immigration advocate and hired an Obama-era juvenile justice reform attorney.

On Wednesday, Krasner’s office said they would not oppose Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill being released on bail after it was discovered that one of his arresting officers provided false testimony. That officer was on a list of problem cops made public earlier this month.

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