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Why are so many people on parole in Philadelphia? Also, Mayor Kenney makes his 2020 pick | Morning Newsletter

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Pennsylvania has one of the nation's highest rates of supervision, driven by unusual laws that leave judges unchecked. But many people fail, ending up in jail or in a cycle of ever more probation.
Pennsylvania has one of the nation's highest rates of supervision, driven by unusual laws that leave judges unchecked. But many people fail, ending up in jail or in a cycle of ever more probation.Read moreGarland Potts / Staff Illustration (custom credit)

    The Morning Newsletter

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Crime is down across Pennsylvania. But incarceration rates are climbing, and more people are on probation or parole. The problem is exacerbated in Philadelphia, where one in 23 adults is on probation or parole. But why? An Inquirer investigation found that many people are ending up in an ever-increasing cycle of jail and probation.

In other news, the 76ers got their season started last night with a win over the Celtics. And, Mayor Jim Kenney snubbed the presidential candidate who had helped him with a school paper 45 years ago.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Crime rates in Pennsylvania have fallen to their lowest point in decades. But since 1980, the rate of incarceration in Pennsylvania state prisons and county jails has nearly quadrupled. And the number of people on probation or parole has also grown to be four times larger.

An Inquirer investigation found a system virtually ungoverned by law or policy. That means wildly different versions of justice from one courtroom to the next. People are being resentenced multiple times for infractions that include missing appointments or falling behind on payments. As a result, probation and parole violations are flooding the court system, filling up city jails and driving up state prison populations.

The three-part series:

  1. Living in Fear: Probation is meant to keep people out of jail. But intense monitoring leaves tens of thousands across the state at risk of incarceration.

  2. Judges Rule: When it comes to probation, Pennsylvania has left judges unchecked to impose wildly different versions of justice.

  3. Punishing Addiction: Courts recognize substance-use disorder is a disease. Yet some judges continue punishing relapse with ever-longer probation and even prison.

In the waning days of summer 2016, three state senators embarked on a European trip with campaign donors. The trip included the chairman of the Senate committee that regulates liquor laws. And it came three weeks after major legislation expanded wine sales in Pennsylvania.

The cost of the trip was at least $15,300, and it was uncovered as part of a yearlong investigation by the Caucus and Spotlight PA into how Pennsylvania’s most powerful state lawmakers have obscured details of how and where they spend their campaign money.

What you need to know today

  1. Led by Ben Simmons, the 76ers got the W over their rivals last night. The point guard didn’t attempt a three, and that worked out just fine.

  2. When Philly Mayor Jim Kenney was 15, then first-term Delaware Sen. Joe Biden helped him with a school paper. Now 45 years later as Biden seeks the presidency, Kenney has endorsed his biggest rival.

  3. Speaking of Biden, the former VP was back in his hometown of Scranton yesterday. He got a lot of love, but many fans want to see more fight. And he’s got a fight on his hands in terms of getting big-money donations.

  4. Two men have been arrested in the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old girl. Her father was the target of an attempt to settle a drug feud, according to Philadelphia law enforcement officials.

  5. Students in the Philadelphia School District are generally making progress on state exams. But they’re still lagging behind the state’s averages.

  6. Over the past two years, the Pagan Motorcycle Club has expanded its ranks and spread its violent influence in New Jersey. Prosecutors and investigators detailed this at a hearing convened by a group with the mission of dismantling organized crime collectives.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Wow, what a ghoul photo, @carmenino! 👻

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s Interesting

  1. One of the biggest changes in the working world is the number of over-55 workers and job-seekers. Some can’t retire. Others don’t want to. And despite what you may have heard, there’s demand for older workers.

  2. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics left a New Jersey fencer in debt. So, to reach her dreams of trying to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Games, she turned to crowdfunding.

  3. The Philadelphia Union are trying to follow their historic first playoff win with an upset victory in Atlanta tonight. Fun fact: the Union are undefeated against Atlanta this season.

  4. A family from Pennsylvania has sued the e-cigarette maker Juul over their 13-year-old’s nicotine addiction.

  5. OK, we keep hearing that the world was 1.4 degrees warmer last year than it was in the 20th century. How on earth is that even measured? Hint: It’s not like sticking a meat thermometer into a turkey.

  6. Filmmakers made a documentary about Eagles fans called Maybe Next Year. It revisits the Eagles’ long-shot 2017 run to the Super Bowl title from the perspective of six die-hard fans.


“Now, they tend the candles and a memorial for a girl whose death has captured a city’s attention, on a block that gets almost none. Where, if you spend an hour talking to neighbors, nearly everyone you meet will eventually volunteer their own story of a loved one lost to gun violence.” — columnist Mike Newall visits the Kensington block where a 2-year-old was killed and learns that nearly everyone he talks to has lost someone to gun violence.

  1. Malik Majeed is the president, CEO, and general counsel of PRWT Services Inc. It’s the biggest minority-owned company in Philadelphia. Majeed writes about Philadelphia’s not meeting its goal of contracting 35% of its businesses to minority-owned enterprises.

  2. As Pennsylvania debates a “heartbeat” abortion bill, Patrick Denehy, a professor of biomedical ethics and philosophy of personhood, wants you to consider a thought experiment.

What we’re reading

  1. The Intercept is reporting that a group of formerly incarcerated men and women will moderate a presidential town hall meeting next week at Eastern State Penitentiary.

  2. Residents in Fairhill want to turn an underused park into an athletic stage. But officials aren’t all-in on the plan just yet, Philadelphia Weekly reports.

  3. Why is the Army looking for art experts? The New York Times tells us.

Your Daily Dose of | Knives

For some chefs in Philadelphia, their knives are more than just tools. They can define a cook’s identity and serve as reminders of where they’ve been and where they want to go.