HARRISBURG, Pa. – The State Senate approved a bipartisan package of criminal justice reforms recently to reduce prison and probation costs, better protect crime victims and strengthen public safety, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).
The measures would help county governments better assess probation risks and identify offenders who could benefit from intermediate punishment programs.
The criminal justice reform package would result in lower rates of incarceration and reduced costs to taxpayers, while at the same time reinvesting a portion of those savings into improving communication with crime victims regarding compensation and services.
Senate Bill 500 would create a County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee to help counties better assess the unique risks and needs of probationers to reduce incarceration and cut costs to taxpayers. Adult probation departments across the state would be supported financially and trained on best practices to achieve better outcomes for offenders. A special provision will ensure that future expenditures never exceed the savings realized.
Senate Bill 501 would streamline the placement of offenders in drug treatment programs and other intermediate punishment programs, and improve and expedite the parole process for non-violent offenders.
Senate Bill 502 would help improve communications with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.
The package of bills builds on the success of Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) measures approved in 2012 to reduce prison costs to taxpayers and reinvest the savings in programs to improve public safety.
Over the past six years, the inmate population in state prisons has been reduced by more than 4,000, and the crime rate has decreased by approximately 18 percent, saving $400 million in projected costs to taxpayers.