Phase 2 of Pennsylvania’s prison reform passes

Recently, the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously passed the second phase of prison reform for Pennsylvania, which outlines the formula for returning savings from the first phase of prison reform to local governments. Currently, it is estimated that Pennsylvania will save $142 million over five years from prison reform. Initially, 75 percent of the savings will go into a special fund for state agencies and local governments, which will be used to improve law enforcement and evidence-based treatment.

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will receive $1 million to develop a statewide victim notification system and other victim services. The Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission will receive $400,000 to establish risk assessment models for judges to use at sentencing. The remaining funds will benefit local grants for innovative policing and county probation, as well as the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole to support implementation and outreach for improved reentry programs.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the first phase of Pennsylvania’s prison reform into law in July of this year. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. It seeks to divert nonviolent, addicted offenders from state prison by treating their addiction issues at the local level and provides for evidence-based practices in county probation departments. BI works with several Pennsylvania counties, including Franklin, Cambria and Luzerne, for alternatives to detention that include day reporting programs. The bill shares similarities with California’s realignment policy, which shifts responsibility for low-level offenders from the state to the county and favors treatment services over prison.