PRISONER RIGHTSAny candidates who want criminal justice reform don’t speak of the topics that I will touch on, because they are not really listening.
For instance, once someone is housed at our County jails, and their family is desperate to hear from them, it is mind-boggling to find out what it cost these inmates, who for the most part are behaving themselves, to contact their loved ones.
Heavy Democratic contributors control contracts for food, repairs and maintenance, and yes something as silly as the phones.
Does it really need to cost a minimum of $5 for a brief conversation with one's family? Do they really have to call collect and put additional burdens on the family who are already suffering having committed no crime?
With the technology we have today, there is no reason in the world these calls shouldn’t be free, instead of collect.
At the same time, it would be up to the Wardens of each jail, to regulate the number and length of calls they need to make. It goes without questions, that is their prerogative, but the cost needs to be addressed and needs to be done immediately. Calls are an excellent way to reward inmates who behave and punish those who respect no one.
We don’t need to simply warehouse inmates, we need to prepare them for life on the outside.
Democratic candidates in this City have enjoyed the support of organized labor for years and years. Why is it these candidates haven’t gone back to these unions asking their help in training former convicts in electric, plumbing, cement, carpentry, and painting? Has anyone ever tried?
Let me perfectly clear, I am 100 percent in favor of organized labor. There is no reason in the world why corporate executives with million-dollar bonuses, should be the only ones enjoying this prosperous time.
The working men and women of Philadelphia have a right to that same enjoyment. Therefore, organized labor will benefit greatly in any decision making of my administration. At the same time, I will ask the leaders of each and every union, to give a full and fair opportunity to train and hire those inmates who demonstrate their worth.
Some may argue this as not for the office of District Attorney, but more for that of the Mayor. I would argue they are wrong as the District Attorney’s Office employs a great number of people and will lead by example.
A criminal conviction should not destroy the complete future of an individual. Therefore, I will take steps, after having input from several community leaders, to come up with a sliding scale where former convicts go a certain number of years and their record, for a conviction, gets sealed.
Right now, a person could have an 18-year-old conviction for aggravated assault where a prospective employer may be afraid to hire him/her. It would be the duty of the District Attorney to make sure that record is kept, measures taken, and solutions explored, where that conviction cannot be found by corporate America after a number of years. Obviously, this would have to be done on a case by case basis where my office was satisfied that the risk of recidivism is extremely low.