Philadelphia spends more on prisons -- $231 million last budget year -- than it does on libraries, parks, City Council, the district attorney's office, the board of ethics, and licenses and inspections. Combined.
From 2009 to 2011, the prison population finally dropped after quadrupling for over nearly three decades. But now the prison population is soaring again, says Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla.
"We've seen increased overtime. We've had to staff areas that, formerly, we didn't have to occupy," Giorla said. "More people come through the door, you have more missions. You do more intake medical screenings, you do more mental-health evaluations.
"Across the board, all of our costs have increased."
The prison population sank to below 7,700 inmates last spring. That helped save the city more than $7 million in overtime, according to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts. With an eye on shrinking budgets, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were talking about sending fewer people to jail. It made prisoners' advocates such as Angus Love hopeful.
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