We must end private prisons. Our current use of private prisons has left us with the highest prison population in the world. To truly be progressive we must support and expand expungement legislation, and promote mental health services and reintegration programs. This creates a justice system that is more proactive rather than creating a cycle for people to feel trapped without a leg to stand on. I agree with ending cash bail. Philadelphia’s criminal justice system has failed its population for decades with poorly trained police, and underpaid defense attorneys. It goes without saying that the problems plaguing Philadelphia’s criminal justice system have disproportionately ruined the lives of many Black and Brown people in the city.
However, Philadelphia can be a safer city by promoting and investing in anchor organizations and jobs that provide living wages. Black and Brown communities aren’t inherently more evil, but they are inherently underfunded. Statistics show that communities that experience higher levels of poverty see higher levels of crime. When we invest in human capital, we see a decline in crime. By bringing jobs, and health and wellness programs we will begin to see the tide turn on crime in these communities. However, if we do nothing crime levels will remain stagnant for years to come.
“Tough on crime” policies are overcrowding our prisons. This issue again goes back to anchor organizations. Our criminal justice system has criminalized being poor, even after you have paid your debt to society. Once we realize our current system keeps people in the position that they are in, only then can we reduce our prison population. We have to stop criminalizing people struggling with addictions and people living in poverty.
This city cannot afford to privatize education the way this country privatized prisons. Granting our children a world class education should not be a privilege, but a right, no matter the child’s color or class. We must invest in public schools and public education to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. Vouchers are simply a red herring. They do nothing to increase equity across the board, and only bolster the illusion of school choice for many economically challenged families in the city.
Public schools hold a crucial role in the city as they are the centerpiece and hallmark of many communities. A world class public education is a part of the American fabric. We cannot cede that legacy to wealthy boards and private investors. Simply using property taxes and allowing the Commonwealth to tell this city what our students need must stop. Utilizing property value and neighborhood location are antiquated and, quite frankly, racist methods of determining the quality of a school. These methodologies recall the days of redlining and housing covenants. We need to determine funding based on the needs of the students attending the individual schools. We must also hold Charter Schools to the same standard as Public Schools so they can compete on a level playing field.
My policies would center around investing in programs within tech industries and programs supporting trade jobs. The great thing about the tech industry and jobs from trade schools is that many of the jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree. As a whole we need to learn how to tie life skills, and health and wellness to the job training process to help people navigate through the job system and society for increased likelihood of success. If we fail to do this we will continue our countries racist trend of leaving poor Black and Brown communities behind.
I would also push policy that support community colleges to ensure a foundation of education is available for those who choose to seek it. Lastly, I am committed to providing creative pathways to allow people to attain education through the use of their existing content knowledge. This city is bursting with paraprofessionals who have hit the proverbial glass ceiling due to education constraints. Yet, many of these paraprofessionals are more competent in their careers than the professionals they support. I want to build pathways that allow these paraprofessionals to supplement their education through their experience, fast tracking them to obtain four year degrees and advance accordingly in their fields.