Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The head of the state’s prisons went before the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to plead his case for help in dealing with the growing inmate population. Despite falling crime rates the number of people held in Pennsylvania Corrections Department facilities continues to grow. Corrections Secretary Jeffery Beard says last year’s temporary moratorium on parole compounded the problem. He says the state needs to look at options other than incarceration for non violent offenders and to think twice about sending a parolee to jail if they have small “technical” violation of their parole terms. The system has approximately 51,000 inmates in a system designed for 49,000. The state plans to add 8,000 new beds by 2013 but Beard says that may not be enough at the current rate of growth. The state plans to send as many as 2,000 inmates to prisons outside of Pennsylvania early next year.