Philadelphia’s criminal justice system is still feeling the ripple effects of civil unrest over police killings that erupted across the country two years ago.
District Attorney Larry Krasner on Thursday unveiled an online dashboard that shows how hundreds of criminal cases that emerged during the unrest fared through a first-of-its-kind diversion program in Philadelphia, known as Justice restorative.
The city estimated that some 900 businesses were damaged or robbed in the upheaval following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and another 250 after the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia, combining millions of dollars in damage .
But in bringing justice to the accused violators, Krasner said he wants a path that “rights the wrong” done to businesses while acknowledging that the violators were vastly impoverished, lived in the areas most affected by the unrest and could not pay the refund.
The newly unveiled interactive webpage provides a timeline and context around the events leading up to the civil unrest, and focuses on a group of several hundred applicants who qualified for the new program, most of whom were charged with having broken into businesses or having participated in property. destruction.
READ MORE: Hundreds arrested in Philadelphia uprisings could avoid prosecution with restorative justice
“By participating in the reparations process, victims and defendants have reached a mutually agreed outcome to enforce accountability and repair the harm caused,” the prosecutor’s office wrote on the Dashboard’s website.
The bureau reviewed 834 potential cases to participate in the “restorative response program.” Of those, 544 defendants were deemed eligible, according to the prosecutor’s office. (Krasner’s office said most of those arrested by police during crowd-clearing operations received only citations.)
Participants were required to attend training sessions, were referred to employment programs or other opportunities for community re-engagement, and participated in restorative justice circles. Business owners also participated in the circles and received restitution where appropriate, according to Krasner’s office. The companies concerned could also apply for subsidies from the city.
People who committed firearms offenses during the Troubles, as well as people who were re-arrested for a “serious crime” at a later date, were not eligible for restorative justice diversion. Krasner also banned those who rented U-Hauls or damaged ATMs during the unrest. But the office said it did not consult any individual’s “criminal history” when considering eligibility.
The office says just over half of the participants – 285 people – have completed the program so far. Of these, 12% were rearrested.
The Inquirer has not independently analyzed the criminal findings presented by Krasner’s office.
In a press release on Thursday, supporters of criminal justice reform praised the recidivism prevention program.
“Completion of these programs has achieved the empowerment and community healing that the status quo criminal justice system rarely achieves,” said the Reverend Donna Jones, leader of the MCCP Restorative Cities Initiative, in a statement, adding that “the results promising” show a way forward for similar cases.
In addition to promising recidivism numbers, the DA touted the program to save taxpayers money associated with incarceration or other more traditional prosecution methods.