Pennsylvania

From 2011 to 2012, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania employed a “justice reinvestment” approach to reduce corrections spending and reinvest savings in strategies to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. In 2012, the state enacted legislation based on a justice reinvestment policy framework (Act 122 and Act 196). These policies have helped Pennsylvania reduce inefficiencies in the parole and corrections systems, develop responses to major parole violations that include short periods of incarceration followed by supervision and treatment, as necessary, and transform state-funded community corrections programs to better reduce recidivism. As a result of these and other policies, the state has experienced a decrease in the prison population, averting significant corrections costs. To track these outcomes, Pennsylvania developed an an interactive dashboard for justice reinvestment performance measurement.

Despite the declining prison population and averted corrections costs, however, Pennsylvania has the highest rate of incarcerated adults in the Northeast and spends more than $2 billion annually on corrections. Pennsylvania now seeks to make further improvements to its criminal justice system that will help generate greater savings for reinvestment in public safety strategies.

In October 2015, Governor Tom Wolf, Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, House Speaker Mike Turzai, and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel requested support in employing a justice reinvestment approach to build on prior successes and to increase public safety and reduce corrections spending.

Under the direction of a bipartisan, interbranch Justice Reinvestment Working Group, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center will conduct a comprehensive analysis of extensive data sets collected from various relevant state agencies and branches of government to build a broad picture of statewide and local criminal justice trends in the state.

Based on findings from these exhaustive quantitative and qualitative analyses, the working group will develop policy options for the General Assembly’s consideration in 2017.

Publications

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Fourth Presentation

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Fourth Presentation

The fourth presentation to the Pennsylvania Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group focuses on prioritizing recidivism reduction and understanding sentencing choices and outcomes as well as potential policy options.

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Third Presentation

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Third Presentation

The third presentation to the Pennsylvania Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group focuses on the lack of state support for local criminal justice systems, insufficient sentencing guidance, and costly responses to probation and parole violations.

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Second Presentation

Justice Reinvestment in Pennsylvania: Second Presentation

The second presentation to the Pennsylvania Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group focuses on front-end drivers of the state’s criminal justice system, the impact of sentencing choices, and ways to strengthen community supervision.