A bill reducing Pennsylvania’s state prison population is expected to land on Governor Rendell’s desk this week.
A former corrections secretary estimates thousands of people end up back in state prisons each year, due to technical parole violations.
That includes offenses like missing a meeting with an officer, or not filing an address change with the state.
This bill would give parole boards the power to impose alternative sentences, so technical offenders don’t need to go back to prison.
Andy Hoover of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania explains the measure also allows inmates with short-term sentences to finish up required rehabilitative courses after they’ve been released.
Right now, they need to stay in prison until the programs are complete.
"There are a number of inmates who are ending up in state prisons with less than a year to serve until they reach their minimum. But because of these programming requirements, they end up serving more than the minimum, because they can’t finish the programming in that short amount of time."
The bill’s sponsor is Republican Senator Stewart Greenleaf of Montgomery County...
"We have a criminal justice system that’s not working. We are building new penitentiaries every year at 200 million dollars a year – at least one new penitentiary every year. And it costs 50 to 60 million dollars to operate these facilities."
Lawmakers estimate the bill could save more than 30 million dollars a year in prison costs.