Earlier this month, Right on Crime posted about Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which was launched with the support of Governor Tom Corbett. The group was created to suggest policies that would reduce corrections spending and reinvest those savings into measures to improve public safety.
Today, Governor Corbett signed into effect the second and final piece of the Working Group’s Reinvestment Legislation package. H.B. 135, which was passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature, is the follow-up to H.B. 100. Where H.B. 100 included policy changes, H.B. 135 calls for the reinvestment of those savings into county-level law enforcement and incarceration alternatives.
H.B. 135 seeks to reduce both incarceration rates and recidivism. Specifically, it “will use $86 million to directly support many of the initiatives that include increased programming for release for non-violent offenders, expediting programming for short-time non-violent offenders and aggressively utilizing alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders and the increased use of treatment programs.”
Taken together, H.B. 100 and H.B. 135, will have a tremendous effect on Pennsylvania: first, on taxpayers, saving more than $250 million in five years; second, on communities, by creating a more efficient corrections system and making them safer; and finally, on offenders, by allowing for more efficient communication technology to increase parole hearing capacity.
For Governor Corbett, this is part of an ongoing effort to be “as smart as we are tough on crime.” He concludes that by “[w]orking together, we can deal with crime in a way that will redeem more offenders, appropriately incarcerates violent offenders and sexual predators, and keeps us all from being held prisoner to the growing costs of locking up the bad guys.”