Click Below to read more about City Council’s actions for the week of October 17, 2022.
Deplorable Conditions at Juvenile Justice Center
Councilmember Curtis Jones introduced a resolution encouraging the Philadelphia Law Department to file a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania seeking injunctive relief for their refusal to take custody of juveniles sentenced to state facilities who are currently housed at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center.
As a matter of routine, the juvenile detention center holds juveniles while their cases are waiting to be heard in court.
The center can hold 180 juveniles, but is above capacity and facing starring shortages due to pandemic-related issues, leading to unsafe working conditions for employees. According to the resolution, employees are working 16-hour days 2-3 times per week.
The lack of staffing has led to injuries to both employees and juveniles.
Councilmember Isaiah Thomas decried the situation at the center, saying when council became aware of the situation, there were 213 juveniles at the center. As of October 20th, there are now 220.
“Things have actually gotten worse,” Thomas said. “That’s the state of Philadelphia right now.”
Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said the regular census at the center was between 220 and 280 juveniles, far exceeding the maximum occupancy.
“There is no situation where it is acceptable for staff-to-resident rations to be so skewed that fewer than 10 adults are left to operate a facility housing more than 200 young people,” Gauthier said.
Education Committee to Hold Hearing on Gun Violence
Councilmember Isaiah Thomas introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee on Education to hold hearings to discuss youth experience in schools as a follow-up to the student-led Enough of Enough Anti-Gun Violence Campaign discussed in May 2022.
The Enough is Enough campaign was created to bring young people into the anti-gun violence conversation and conducted a survey of 1300 students to gauge their experiences with gun violence.
Results of the survey included the following information:
-95% of surveyed students could not name a neighborhood resource they could turn to for help
-87% of surveyed students could not name so a neighborhood leader.
The reasons students offered for gun violence amongst youth included
-Lack of self-love
-Weak leadership in the city
-Unaddressed mental health issues
-Weak gun laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
-The desire to be seen as tough or cool
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Parks and Rec to Examine Rebuild Progress
Councilmember Cindy Bass introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee of Parks and Recreation to hold public hearings on the status of the City of Philadelphia’s Rebuild Initiative.
The Rebuild program was created in 2016 when Mayor Jim Kenney implemented the city’s 1.5 cent-per-ounce beverage tax. In addition to providing pre-kindergarten seats to Philadelphia students, the tax would also provide hundreds of millions of dollars to city infrastructure such as parks, community centers, and other areas that would serve children.
The resolution states only a small percentage of Rebuild projects have been completed, while many are stalled, and also cites the need for these projects to be fulfilled due to the rising gun violence plaguing the city.
Brooks Offers Support to City Commissioners
Councilmember Kendra Brooks introduced a resolution “affirming and praising Philadelphia’s City Commissioners and citizen poll workers in implementing free and fair election procedures to determine the will of all eligible Philadelphia voters, and decrying efforts to undermine such officials and citizen participants through bullying and legislative interference.”
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Philadelphia was unfairly targeted by the former President as a false example of purported election fraud. That stigma could very well carry over into the 2022 election, as the Republican candidate for Governor’s campaign has not yet said they will accept the results of the election if they lose.
With recent polls suggesting a tighter race for some offices as Election Day gets closer, it is likely special attention will be paid to Philadelphia’s vote tally by those who are looking to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.