As city jail deaths rise, will reforms help?

November 3, 2015 | Dana DiFilippo | Philadelphia Daily News

Jamella Parks had been hooked on drugs for nearly three decades before she tried to sneak $68.52 worth of toiletries out of a Logan Rite Aid in January. It was far from her first arrest: Her record is riddled with crimes, mostly misdemeanors like prostitution and shoplifting, she committed to feed an addiction she couldn't shake.

This time, though, the arrest would be her death sentence.

Although she could have been freed on just $300 cash bail, the 43-year-old North Philly woman instead spent nearly six months behind bars before dying, in custody, of cancer.

Read more →

The Legal's Diverse Attorneys of the Year—2015

June 2, 2015 | The Legal Intelligencer

Earlier this year, The Legal's editorial staff set out to select our latest group of Diverse Attorneys of the Year, our attempt to shine a light on the outstanding work being done by minority attorneys across Pennsylvania, whose work is sometimes overlooked by a profession still catching up when it comes to diversity.


Yeh is the managing attorney of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to incarcerated or institutionalized low-income people whose constitutional rights have been violated within the institution. Her work has seen her successfully argue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in recent years. In addition to her legal representations, she is president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and has long been co-chair of its Marutani Fellowship Selection Committee, which provides stipends to Asian-American law students so they can take summer internship positions with public interest organizations or government agencies. She chairs the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section and serves on its Judicial Retention and Selection Committee, which has been busy this year, with 15 open judicial positions and dozens of candidates in Philadelphia. She also co-chairs the bar’s Civil Rights Committee.

Want to save money, Gov.-elect Wolf? You can start by trimming prison costs

January 13, 2015 | Angus Love and Ann Schwartzman | PennLive

The great French novelist, Victor Hugo, once observed that "to open a school is to close a prison." Gov.- elect Tom Wolf's campaign promised to replace the funding cut in education by Gov. Tom Corbett. He should heed Hugo's words in his quest for more school funding and balancing a budget with a predicted $2 billion deficit.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has been the single largest growth area of the Commonwealth budget for many years perhaps decades.

It is time to rein it in as other states and the country have done without compromising public safety. It is one area where a bi-partisan consensus can be reached and money can be saved.

Read more →