Democrat-Run City Has Taken Millions In Grants To Empty Its Jails While Crime Soars

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Erinn Broadus Investigative Reporter
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Philadelphia received its fourth installment of funding of nearly $1 million aimed at reducing jail populations and pre-trial detention despite ongoing crime surges, according to the city of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia received nearly $1 million in funding this month from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, according to a press release from the city. Among other things, Philadelphia plans to use money from the grant to analyze current data, hire pretrial advocates, provide training to current or new employees and hire police co-responders when an individual is having a mental breakdown.

Since 2015, homicides have increased in Philadelphia by 84% and auto thefts have increased by 177%, according to police data. Despite this, Philadelphia reduced its jail population by 41.2% from 2016 to 2022, according to data provided by the MacArthur Foundation.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner listens to Mayor Jim Kenney speak at Independence Mall to reporters about his offices Election Task Force and Election Day security. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 7, 2022. (Photo by RYAN COLLERD / AFP) (Photo by RYAN COLLERD/AFP via Getty Images)

In total, Philadelphia has received nearly $10 million from 2016 to 2022 from the MacArthur Foundation for the purposes of reducing jail populations, pretrial detention, and eliminating or reforming bail. This is their fourth installment of funds, starting with $3.5 million in 2016, $4 million in 2018 and $2.3 million in 2021, according to city data.

Philadelphia is one of 57 cities funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with the goal of reducing jail populations. Many cities that the MacArthur Foundation bankrolls are currently experiencing record-high surges in crime — like Philadelphia and Chicago.

“I am proud to celebrate and reflect on the progress made by the Safety and Justice Challenge cities and counties over the past seven years. This initiative shows that communities can bridge their differences in pursuit of a more equitable and just response to people in conflict with the law,” said MacArthur Foundation Director of Criminal Justice Laurie Garduque in the Philadelphia Tribune. (RELATED: ‘A Violent Start To The Year’: Murders Are Already Soaring In These Six Major Cities)

“There is significant evidence that changes to the criminal justice system are not responsible for increases in crime. For example, according to a report from Loyola University Chicago, bail reform in Cook County had no effect on new criminal activity or crime,” a MacArthur Foundation spokesperson to DCNF. “Crime rates are more effected by other factors such as the availability of guns and socioeconomic instability, like job losses and recessions.”

Other cities, like Chicago, have experienced similar surges in crime. Cook County has received over $6 million from 2015 to 2021, according to the MacArthur Foundation. During that time, homicides have increased by 17%, and weapons charges have increased by 138%, according to data provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney.

Despite these increases in crime, Cook County uses this grant to actively reduce its jail populations. Since implementation, the jail population in Cook County has been reduced by 33%, according to data provided by the MacArthur Foundation.

The project directors for the Safety and Justice Challenge in Chicago and Philadelphia did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

This article has been updated with comment from the MacArthur Foundation.

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