Spurred by a 40 percent return-to-prison rate that was driving up the size and cost of Pennsylvania's corrections system, state leaders unanimously enacted a set of comprehensive sentencing and corrections reforms in 2012 designed to break the cycle of recidivism and make communities safer.
We need to be as smart as we are tough on crime. If we confront the problems of drug abuse and mental health issues early, if we employ specialized treatment courts and programs, we can save both revenue and lives.
-Governor Tom Corbett
The new laws are expected to save the state approximately $253 million over the next five years by slowing prison growth through a variety of measures: reducing costly inefficiencies in the parole process; increasing the accountability of community corrections facilities; imposing swift and certain sanctions for probation violations; and requiring low level non-violent misdemeanor offenders be sentenced to prison alternatives.
Passed as two separate bills in July and October, the reform package requires reinvestment of large share of the prison savings into crime victim services, innovative policing, improvements in county probation systems, and other public safety strategies. It also reimburses counties a portion of the costs for retaining lower-level felony offenders instead of sending them to state facilities.