Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday announced the launch of an informational webpage that details the proposed unification of the Department of Corrections and the PA Board of Probation and Parole , into the new Department of Criminal Justice.
“My administration and leadership from the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole are committed to the creation of one unified department to improve public safety and strengthen services to victims while preserving the independence of the parole board’s decision making,” Gov. Wolf said. “The unification will save a projected $124 million over five years and reduce recidivism by an estimated 5 percent, all while maintaining current staff levels in both state agencies. That is a great example of government that works.”
The new Department of Criminal Justice will maintain the state system for the custody and rehabilitation of criminally convicted individuals, and the eventual supervision of reentrants on parole, helping them to continue to reintegrate into society.
Over the past several months, Gov. Wolf has worked closely with all stakeholders and two involved state agencies to create a unification plans that increases public safety, realizes government efficiencies and saves money.
The webpage details the cost savings, the role of the unified department, and new org charts, as well as feedback mechanisms, and an overview of the legislation that if passed will create the Department of Criminal Justice.
Sponsored by Sen. Stuart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), the unification legislation, Senate Bills 522 and 523, are currently in the House. The bills passed the Senate on May 24: Senate Bill 522 by a vote of 38-12 and Senate Bill 523 by a vote of 48-2.
The legislation creates an independent Parole Board, Office of Victim Advocate, and Sex Offenders Assessment Board while unifying the remainder of Parole’s functions with the Department of Corrections. The new department’s responsibility entails all supervision from reception to sentence completion.
“Our goal for the department remains the same,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said. “That is to reduce the future criminality of incarcerated individuals and parolees through evidence-based programming and effective supervision techniques coupled with appropriate staffing and resource dedication. This webpage will help us communicate with staff and stakeholders about how we are moving forward with that goal in mind.”
“Keeping everyone involved in the unification informed and apprised is tantamount to the success of this effort,” PBPP Chairman Leo Dunn said. “We hope that everyone who visits the site offers feedback on how we can work to make this unification a success for staff, incarcerated individuals, parolees, and their families.”
The webpage was introduced to all affected agency staff on May 24.For more information, visit the Department of Criminal Justice webpage.