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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FILES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF CITY OF PHILADELPHIA EFFORTS TO REMOVE PRISON POPULATION CAP

 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FILES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF
 CITY OF PHILADELPHIA EFFORTS TO REMOVE PRISON POPULATION CAP
 PHILADELPHIA, April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr today announced the Department of Justice is filing a statement of interest in support of the City of Philadelphia's motion to modify two consent decrees which cap the Philadelphia prison population.
 The court-ordered cap currently bars the admission of some criminal defendants and requires the release of others -- such as muggers, burglars, car thieves, bank robbers and armed drug dealers.
 The attorney general made the announcement at a ceremony dedicating a new victims' assistance center in Philadelphia, saying, "The cap has no basis in the Constitution; it is wrong as a matter of law, of policy and of public safety. It is wreaking havoc with public safety and victimizing innocent Philadelphians. It should be removed immediately."
 In the statement filed today, the department announced its support for the efforts of the city to modify the population cap provisions of the consent decrees while moving ahead with prison and courthouse construction.
 The statement presents three separate grounds for modification. They are: first, that modification is required under governing U.S. Supreme Court precedent because continued enforcement would be manifestly detrimental to the public interest; second, that significant changes in the law since the entry of the consent decrees warrant modification; and third, that federal court oversight of the Philadelphia jails is inappropriate in the absence of a finding of unconstitutional conditions.
 Barr said, "It is incumbent upon the Department of Justice to support those states that are operating their prisons in good faith compliance with the Constitution and that seek relief from the undue constraints of protracted prison litigation."
 In January of this year, Barr announced that the department opposed judicial micromanagement of state correctional facilities and would be prepared to assist states in regaining control over their prison systems.
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 -0- 4/23/92
 /CONTACT: U.S. Attorney's Office, 202-514-2007, or TDD, 202-514-1888/ CO: U.S. Attorney General's Office; City of Philadelphia ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


CC-JS -- PH025 -- 1853 04/23/92 11:54 EDT
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Date:Apr 23, 1992
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