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January 27, 2011

Pennsylvania auditor urging state sentencing reform to reduce prison costs

A sure sign of the modern budget and sentencing times is this local story from Pennsylvania which reports on the state auditor urging criminal justice reforms.  The piece is headlined "Wagner endorses GOP bill to lessen Pennsylvania prison costs," and here are excerpts:

Calling for an end to new prison construction, Auditor General Jack Wagner today urged the Legislature to approve a Senate Republican's bill making it easier to send non-violent offenders to alternative-sentencing programs.

Wagner, a Beechview Democrat, issued a "special report" outlining the 500 percent growth in Pennsylvania's prison population from 8,243 in 1980 to 51,487 in 2010.  In 2009, Pennsylvania had the highest number of new inmates — 2,122 — of any state.

The cost per inmate nearly tripled from $11,477 in 1980 to $32,059 in 2009, Wagner said. The overall cost to taxpayers increased from $1.17 billion to $1.6 billion over the past decade, a 37 percent increase, he said.  As the state faces a $4 billion to $5 billion budget deficit, it's imperative that lawmakers consider reductions in Department of Corrections spending, which historically has been "sacrosanct," Wagner said....

The state plans to spend $862 million for four new correctional institutes and four new housing centers, and the 4,000 additional beds are expected to be filled as soon as construction is completed, Wagner said.  Wagner suggested a moratorium on new construction after these are built.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Shaler Republican, is better equipped than any other governor over the past 30 years to address corrections issues as former state attorney general, former U.S. attorney and one-time head of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Wagner said.

January 27, 2011 at 05:13 PM | Permalink

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Comments

A valid debate could take place if the adjudicated charges of non-violent offenses were not fictitious.

A victim is too terrorized to testify after being stabbed repeatedly. A plea down to criminal trespass or burglary is the adjudicated charge. The crazed, ultra-violent criminal is loosed his adjudicated charge being non-violent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 27, 2011 10:56:45 PM

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