Building Justice in Berks

Prison in Berks County with Cars parked in parking lot


When the county decided to build a new prison with a 900+ bed count, our team organized around criminal legal system reform in Berks County and pressed for a smaller, greener jail. We succeeded in getting our commissioners to commit to a prison population of no more than 700, but the building project is currently on hold, and the population remains well over that number.  

Our mission is to permanently reduce the number of people in the system, identify interventions that maximize community safety, and ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and equity across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and gender.

We are currently engaged in a year-long project designed to gather precise data about who is in our jail, why and for how long, and document the stories of residents and their families who have lived experience with the criminal legal system. Our Walk With Us Listening Tour, a first for the county, includes interviews with 100 formerly incarcerated individuals.