DEENEY: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

  THE ATLANTIC: In 2012, an officer was arrested for selling heroin; he was one of 40-some officers charged with corruption after the “Tainted Justice” investigation. That may be evidence that “Tainted Justice” sparked more oversight, but more likely it’s an indication that police corruption has continued with abandon despite it. Last year, Jeffrey Walker, another rogue narc-squad officer in West Philly, was charged with robbing drug dealers. He pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Courthouse insiders say that Walker will finger as many as 15 dirty cops who are still on the streets. The city’s capacity for […]

DEENEY: Psychotic Subway Attacks Are The Chickens Of A Broken Mental Health System Coming Home To Roost

THE ATLANTIC: The grainy video begins with a unkempt man in a bulky winter coat, bumming a light for his smoke off a young woman sitting on a subway platform bench. The subway is a low-traffic spur line stopping at Philadelphia’s Chinatown, so it’s not unusual that at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday there’s nobody else waiting for the train.The man draws on the cigarette and blows a plume of smoke. It looks like maybe some small talk transpires but there’s no audio with the image. The man feints towards the subway tracks like he’s looking down the […]

DEENEY: The Antivirals Of Violence

  BY JEFF DEENEY FOR THE NATION CeaseFire works through aggressive peer-led street outreach by ex-offenders with deep ties to the community, who gather intelligence on gangs in order to spot potential conflicts. Such conflicts are then mediated by the program’s famed violence “Interrupters.” At its peak, CeaseFire Chicago employed fifty outreach workers and fifty Interrupters, chosen from pools of candidates screened by professional and community panels to ensure they’d left the hustling life. Statisticians analyze the data gathered by outreach teams alongside data tracking violence collected by law enforcement, identifying up-to-the-moment crime hot spots, and focusing the program’s resources […]

DEENEY: OccupyPhilly Has Its Head Up Its Ass About Feeding The Homeless On The Parkway

[Photo by ROBIN ODLAND] BY JEFF DEENEY Back in 2007 part of my job as a social worker was doing street outreach on the Parkway where I encouraged the homeless to come to the day center where I worked to access social services.  The agency I worked for was always sure to have an outreach person on scene during the public feedings by local faith groups and other volunteers.  The crowds for feedings were thick, and since my instructions were to never interrupt people who were eating or rouse people who were sleeping, working the lines of people waiting for […]

DEENEY: Scenes From My (Non-Celebrity) Rehab

  EDITOR’S NOTE: The following are excerpts from a longer piece that Phawker contributor Jeff Deeney wrote for the website The Fix about his own experience in rehab. The kind of rehab you go to when you can’t afford health insurance. * Four beds are crammed into a tiny room, their mattresses encased in bodily fluid–proof rubber and covered in thin, ratty sheets. Dusty dorm furniture in disrepair is shoved in a corner. The common area reeks of sweat and stale smoke. An antique television with a wire-hanger antenna plays grainy tapes from a comically outdated video library. Extra folding […]

DEENEY: On Race, Sobriety And The Good Lord

BY JEFF DEENEY: Susan was a crack addict and prostitute whose life was saved by Jesus Christ. That’s what she would say when you met her; she had no compunction about sharing details of her sordid past because the Lord cleansed those sins from her. Christ may have removed the sins but he left much of Susan otherwise unchanged after she got clean; at 35, she looked at least a decade older, her graying hair matched by a haggard expression—all testimony to her many years on the Philadelphia streets. She still had a hot temper and a foul mouth lacing sentences with […]

DEENEY: Welcome To Coatesville Cokesville, USA

THE FIX: Coatesville has long been the primary coke supplier for Philly’s western suburbs. Local teens who move the crack bags and act as corner lookouts call their hometown “Cook Cokeville.” The town was once a major supplier of steel under the Lukens and later Bethlehem Steel banners; its mill even produced girders for the World Trade Center. The mill remains operational, owned now by Luxemburg conglomerate ArcelorMittal, and while its sprawling campus still dominates the landscape, it no longer drives the local economy as it once did. Crack cocaine replaced the steel. […] One benefit of the collapse of […]

DEENEY: Abusing The Disabled For Fun And Profit

DAILY BEAST: A shocking discovery on a weathered but quiet stretch of Longshore Avenue in the working-class Tacony neighborhood shook Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon: four cognitively impaired disabled adults were found malnourished, chained to a water heater, and locked behind a steel door in a filthy 15-by-15-foot closet in the basement of an apartment complex. The details of the story are still taking shape. The four adults and their “caretakers”—charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and various other crimes—arrived in the city by way of Florida just a few weeks ago, but lived in Texas prior to that. What brought them […]


THE FIX: Over the past few years waves of drug-hysteria stories about new synthetic substances have flooded the media; headlines shouted that emerging drugs like the stimulant mephedrone were being sold legally, marketed as “bath salts” body products and wreaking havoc on the minds of drug abusers. Even as legislators scrambled to ban this demonized new test-tube high, habitual substance abusers in drug-soaked inner cities like Philly shrugged. Who needs bath salts when you can get whatever you want, whenever you want, at high potency and low cost on one of the city’s hundreds of drug corners? But one new […]

DEENEY: Crack Is In The House

THE FIX: On this particular Monday morning the voice on the other end of the phone identified herself as a high-ranking official at the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Why was she calling me, I asked? I’m just a rank-and-file, trench-level social worker. She had a last-minute addition to my caseload: a four-year-old child belonging to a mentally ill, addicted mother, living in a public housing unit that had been converted to a crackhouse. It was my job to go find him. Now, 911, high risk, no time to waste. I’ve certainly heard crazier war stories from longtime vets in the profession; […]

DEENEY: How I Got Blackballed From Radio Times

[Illustration by ALEX FINE] BY JEFF DEENEY On Thursday May 19th, WHYY’s Radio Times was going to air a segment featuring me and a local psychiatrist talking about the alarming rise of PCP in Philly’s black and Latin communities and the massive social costs associated with a drug that can prove ruinous to chronic users’ mental health. You would have heard first hand accounts from the inpatient director of Einstein Medical Center about the steady stream of PCP-related involuntary commitments to the hospital’s psych unit, and the difficulties associated working with patients suffering from severe, acute episodes of profound drug […]

THE DEENEY BEAST: PCP, Not Just For Kicking Out The Back Windows Of Cop Cars Anymore

THE DAILY BEAST: During its heyday in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, PCP was associated with biker gangs and horror stories in the press detailing catastrophically bad trips resulting in mental breakdown and bodily injury. But today, the drug’s spread more closely resembles that of crack-cocaine: poor, inner-city kids looking for an initially affordable, easy-to-obtain high. Philadelphia’s notorious Badlands, primarily a Latin barrio comprised of narrow streets lined with ailing two-story brick row homes, has been the epicenter of the city’s drug trade for decades. Today, the neighborhood is drenched in wet, and the corners where wet sells are some […]