Taxpayers in Pennsylvania are footing the bill for 454 fewer inmates this month than they were a year ago, while South Carolina’s citizens are paying for 2,700 fewer inmates.
Why? Pennsylvania created a more effective parole and processing system, while recent legislative alterations to drug and low-level crimes will further the prison population drop.
In South Carolina, the Legislature and Governor three years ago prioritized sending violent offenders to prison for a longer time, while providing for alternative sentences for nonviolent offenders, and created a more effective probation supervision system. The prison population drop resulted in two prison closures and $175 million in avoided prison construction costs.
Both states came to the realization that one-size-fits-all prison policies are expensive, and aren’t actually the best way to protect the public safety. Instead, prioritizing prison beds for violent offenders while doing more to get non-violent and low-risk offenders back on the right path can save millions and do far more to keep citizens safe.