It’s not just the ramblings of a bleeding heart but one of the costliest acts that our city does is breaking the bond of families. It happens like this – a family member is sent to prison and not only does the inmate end up in prison but so does the rest of the family. Kids like to brag about their mommies and daddies but when your parent or mate is in prison there is just shared shame. Many non-violent crimes are not repeated. The ramifications of the act make a prisoner re-think the future. Paying you sentence through social acts benefitting the society seems far wiser than paying a private corporation big bucks to house your people.
“In the half light on a quiet street on the edge of west Philadelphia, Kristal Bush shut her front door and hustled down her stone steps. She crossed the street and pulled her slim frame into the driver’s seat of her shiny, black 12-passenger Sprinter van. Juggling two phones, she turned the key. The engine chugged awake, and she started tapping out texts to her riders. A few minutes shy of 6am on a summer Sunday, Kristal was already late.
About six years ago, when Kristal was 22, she and her mother, Crystal Speaks, decided to try their hands at turning circumstance into opportunity. Crystal was going broke from the expense of the visits to see her son, Jarvae. He was serving a 10-year sentence in Huntingdon state prison, 200 miles from Philadelphia. Opportunity came in the form of thousands of Philadelphia families like theirs who have someone locked up far from home.
In the years Jarvae was at Huntingdon, Crystal got to know some of the other regulars well enough to start giving them rides. She’d pick them up from their homes twice a month in her white Nissan Armada. They’d pay her $50 for her gas and her trouble. It was just $5 or $10 more than the bus a local nonprofit charged, but they had to meet the bus in downtown Philly before daybreak. What Crystal didn’t spend on the trip she’d put on Jarvae’s commissary account, easing the prison’s bite into the paycheck she brought working long hours as a nurse’s aide.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/20/philadelphia-bridging-the-gap-van-service-prisons