Pennsylvania’s corrections system spends millions of taxpayer dollars sending nonviolent offenders to prison and does not do enough to help them meet conditions for early release, consultants found.
State taxpayers spent $49 million housing inmates beyond the minimum release dates of sentences for misdemeanors and minor felonies committed in 2010, said the review by The Council of State Government’s Justice Center. The researchers are scheduled to present policy recommendations today to a state committee considering changes to the prison system.
“The whole package will include a substantial amount of money that can be saved, and at the same time, we can improve the system,” said Tony Fabelo, the center’s research director.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed $27.14 billion budget counts on Department of Corrections savings achieved through legislation and agency changes, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said. Corbett proposed flat funding of slightly less than $2 billion for the department.
The state’s prison population climbed from 7,000 to 51,645 since 1980, in part because of mandatory-minimum sentences, longer prison terms and incarceration of less violent offenders, said Katrina Currie, a policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation.
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