Magazine article Corrections Forum

Inmate Transport in the City of Brotherly Love

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Inmate Transport in the City of Brotherly Love

Article excerpt

Built in 1683, the City of Philadelphia's first jail was a 7x5-foot cage. Minor criminal offenses were punishable by banishment, branding and public whippings. For the most egregious offenses, such as treason, burglary, rape, counterfeiting and murder, convicted criminals were sentenced to execution by hanging.

Today, the Philadelphia Prison Campus consists of six facilitiesHouse of Correction, Riverside Correctional Facility, Detention Center, Alternative & Special Detention Division, Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center and Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

On the Move

Corrections Forum spoke with Deputy Commissioner John Murphy and Public Information Officer Robert Eskind to find out more about PPS and its Transportation Unit. PPS has an average daily population of 8,141 inmates, Eskind notes. The facility also has about 2,000 civil service employees providing correctional and social services, as well as another 600 contract employees providing food service , commissary, medical and behavioral health, and for two facilities, maintenance.

Because the PPS Campus is located in the Northeast quadrant of the city, transportation units schedule a daily town run to administrative offices downtown to deliver correspondencea big savings in postage. Transports units also have the responsibility for trash pick-up on the PPS campus. All preventative vehicle maintenance on PPS transport units is handled by Fleet Management Services. Transport officers transfer inmates between facilities, provide perimeter security and respond to emergencies on the PPS Campus. Transport units make scheduled clinic trips at community-based hospitals, transfer inmates to other jurisdictions, and transport staff members to meetings and work-related events.

"Inmate transports might be scheduled 24 hours in advance, at the most, and urgent trips are handled on an as-needed basis," according to Deputy Commissioner Murphy. The Sheriff's department transports all PPS inmates to court appointments. On any given day, officers will be transporting inmates between the six PPS facilities. For example, some facilities have services that other facilities do not. All transportation officers have a commercial driver's license with air brake and passenger endorsements.

"During transport, every inmate is restrained in traveling chains, handcuffs and leg irons that allow them to walk but not to run. There's a screen between the driver and the inmate passengers. An especially high-risk inmate may require the presence of an escort vehicle," Murphy says. …

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