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June 24, 2010

Notable talk about possible sentencing reforms in Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has this interesting new piece headlined "Lawmakers seek sentencing reform to cut prison population," discussing possible sentencing reforms in Pennsylvania. Here is how the piece starts:

Some Senate and House members want to enact new alternative sentences for non-violent convicts, saying they would decrease overcrowded state prisons and lighten the financial burden on the state. "Pennsylvania is still in the stone ages when you talk about prison reform," Rep. Kenyatta Johnson, D-Philadelphia, said. "The appetite for prison reform is now."

The reforms, which would require several new pieces of legislation, are backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Ronald Waters, D-Philadelphia.

Measures include having non-violent prisoners who are facing short, minimum sentences serve their time at community-based corrections centers instead of a state prison. Alternative incarceration programs would also be sought for lesser offenses, such as drug-related crimes and technical parole violations.

Mr. Greenleaf said nearly half of the state's prisoners are non-violent offenders. He said the state prison population has skyrocketed from about 8,000 in 1980 to more than 51,000 now. The state's prison population was temporarily reduced recently when 2,000 prisoners were sent to prisons in Virginia and Michigan, but the number continues to rise. "We've been tough on crime, but we haven't been smart on crime," Mr. Greenleaf said.

Pennsylvania spends more on corrections than 44 other states, according to Mr. Waters, who is sponsoring three bills aiming to reform sentencing. The state's Department of Corrections budget is now approaching $2 billion a year, more than 55 times what it was nearly 40 years ago, according to Mr. Waters' figures.

Mr. Greenleaf said if the prison population continues to increase at the current rate, Pennsylvania may have to build a new prison every year, at the cost of more than $200 million per prison. Three new prisons are already scheduled to be built by 2014, and they will be immediately filled if trends continue. They will be in Centre, Montgomery and Fayette counties.

June 24, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

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Please, do not categorize sentences as being for non-violent crime without counting the original charge. Because 95% of sentences are plea bargained, calling a prisoner non-violent is intentionally misleading. I stab my girlfriend 50 times. She refuses to testify being terrorized by me. I plead down to criminal trespass. I am a violent criminal despite the non-violent official reason for incarceration. I really need to be put down like a rabid dog, not get categorized as a non-violent prisoner, qualifying for early release.

The Pennsylvania criminal lover is such a frequent Kissinger liar, a full time truth squad is needed. Why Prof. Berman keeps quoting these lying, criminal lover, lawyer rent seekers, that is a puzzle. Greenleaf is a Republican. That just shows the rent trumps all ideology. He is also a former public defender, and belongs to a law firm with many current public officials as partners. A biased, lying sleazebag, profiting from criminal defense.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 25, 2010 4:42:39 AM

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