Mayoral nominee Jim Kenney talks jobs, jails and more

Written by on June 3, 2015

I spoke with Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney in the days after his convincing victory over a field of five competitors. The wide ranging interview covered jobs, education, marijuana decriminalization and gentrification, but Kenney saved his most interesting comments for the prison system.

Kenney, who told me in an interview before the election that he was against the building of a new prison at a property the City is moving to purchase at 7777 State Road, said he remains opposed, but that the purchase of the land and the building of a prison are two separate issues.

“The land is available and the price apparently is a good price for a large parcel of land, whether that’s used in an industrial fashion, or whether it’s used in a way to maybe set up a different way to have people incarcerated,” Kenney said. “Maybe that would be on a college or university setting, where people who have not had the opportunity or fallen away from their education can maybe be housed in a place where they can go to school every day as opposed to sitting behind bars every day.”

Listen to the interview in it’s entirety by clicking the link below.

Kenney went on to expand on his ideas regarding a different kind of incarceration.

“Maybe they can be trained in an industrial location at that location while they’re doing whatever time they’re doing,” he said. “But I will tell you that I’m very interested in boring down into who is in our prison system right now and why. I know there are people who are incarcerated because they can’t make bail. There are people incarcerated for things that are nonviolent. And I think it is obviously much cheaper to have people released on monitoring and allowing them to go to work, as opposed to sitting up there and doing nothing, so I really want to get to the holistic approach –who’s in that facility, why they’re there, whether they need to be there, and if they need to be there, what can we do to make sure when they leave they’re prepared not to go back.”

Photo: Democratic candidate for mayor Jim Kenney celebrates his win on stage on Primary Election Day at Jim Kenney’s victory party in Philadelphia on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. ( STEPHANIE AARONSON / The Next Mayor )

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