Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group announced Monday it has unanimously approved their final recommendations on criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania which would result in a savings of $108 million, make communities safer and protect the rights of victims.
“Today was the culmination of a yearlong, bipartisan effort to examine the data behind Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, and use that data to develop new and innovative ways to save money, increase public safety and protect the interests of victims,” said Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency) Chairman, now Attorney General-Elect Josh Shapiro. “I am proud of the work that the JRI Working Group has accomplished and that this was done in a bipartisan manner.”
In September 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf reached out to the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts to request technical assistance in undergoing a second phase of JRI in Pennsylvania.
Upon their agreement to provide this assistance, Gov. Wolf appointed PCCD Chairman Shapiro to chair a working group to lead this effort. With the assistance of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, this working group has agreed on six recommendations for criminal justice system improvements for Pennsylvania.
-- Support public safety for victims by serving more people, more effectively;
-- Improve pretrial decision making to increase public safety and decrease county prison costs;
-- Revise policies to guide sentencing decisions to reduce recidivism;
-- Increase the use of effective probation interventions to lower recidivism;
-- Make short prison sentences more predictable and less expansive; and
-- Improve recidivism results for parolees by targeting resources and responses.
A detailed report from the working group will be available early next year along with drafts of legislation to implement these changes.
“We believe these recommendations could affect real, positive change in the criminal justice system,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “We look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to codify these improvements to Pennsylvania's criminal justice system, improving public safety and reducing costs.”
Click Here to review a presentation to the Working Group December 10 on criminal justice challenges, highlights key goals and details policy proposals.
For more background on this multi-year initiative that began in 2011, visit the Department of Corrections’ Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative and the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center Pennsylvania webpage.
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