New members join Philadelphia’s criminal justice reform committee 

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Philadelphia and its criminal justice partner agencies recently announced the addition of 16 new members to its Criminal Justice Community Advisory Committee (CAC) in an effort to help advance racial equity in the city’s criminal justice system.

The CAC — created in 2019 as part of Philadelphia’s criminal justice reform efforts — was established in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, a collaborative effort to advance racial equity while reducing the local jail population. With the new members, the CAC has 27 members — a collaboration of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and age who have either been directly impacted or who have significant experience with the criminal justice system.

“With so many pressing issues facing Philadelphia’s criminal legal system, the new members will have a real stake in advocating for a more just Philadelphia,” said Devren Washington, Chair of the CAC in a statement.

Philadelphia joined the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2015, and since then has launched more than 30 new programs or policy changes. While the local jail population has declined by 40 percent, seeing its highest drop during the height of the pandemic, the rate of racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system has not changed. The CAC was designed to ensure those who have been directly impacted by the system have a seat at the reform table.

“The new and current CAC members are vital in continuing to ensure community voices are front and center in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the Philadelphia criminal justice system,” said Brittany Weston, Vice Chair of the CAC.

Each criminal justice partner agency has nominated at least one liaison who will be responsible for collaborating with the CAC, participating in events, and responding to recommendations or requests for information. The partners include: The Managing Director’s Office, Philadelphia Department of Prisons, Philadelphia Police Department, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services, Defender Association of Philadelphia, District Attorney’s Office, and the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

“Philadelphia is at a critical juncture. There is a pressing need to implement meaningful justice system reform that enhances public safety,” said Acting Chief Defender Alan Tauber. “The only way to achieve that is to incorporate the voices of the people who are most impacted by the decisions we make as a justice system… They have the best sense of the challenges our neighborhoods face, and of the available community resources we can tap into to solve these problems.”

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