Pennsylvania

Overview

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From 2011 to 2012, the CSG Justice Center worked with Pennsylvania state leaders to develop data-driven, consensus-based policy options designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center experts interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system and conducted a comprehensive analysis of Pennsylvania’s criminal justice data to identify challenges facing the Commonwealth: 

  • Thousands of offenders were cycling through prison with sentences of less than one year, making it more difficult for them to complete required programs in a timely fashion
  • Recent federal and state funding cuts were harming key components of the criminal justice system including local law enforcement, probation, and victim services
  • Inefficiencies in the parole process prevented offenders from being released even after being granted parole, while other offenders were being placed in community facilities before completing their minimum sentence
  • $100 million investments in the state’s Community Corrections Centers and Contract Facilities were undermined because they were not targeting higher-risk offenders

    Pennsylvania’s justice reinvestment policies were signed into law in 2012. Pennsylvania’s justice reinvestment framework includes several policy options designed to address theses challenges. Among other things, the framework:

    • Requires lower-level misdemeanor offenders to be sentenced to a non-prison sanction and launches a system that helps counties divert misdemeanants and the short-minimum sentence population
    • Provides law enforcement with resources to deter crime as well as increase funding for data-driven statewide victim initiatives and community-based services
    • Redesigns the state’s residential community corrections programs as parole transition and violation centers
    • Sanctions technical parole violators to capped terms in community corrections programs

    These policies are projected to save the Commonwealth up to an estimated $254 million over five years. According to a statutory formula, Pennsylvania will reinvest a portion of realized savings in local law enforcement, county probation and parole, and victim services. The CSG Justice Center continues to work with the Commonwealth at its request to provide assistance in the implementation of these policies.