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November 26, 2008

New risk-oriented sentencing law operative in Pennsylvania

This local article from Pennsylvania provides an effective review of a notable new sentencing law that its now operative in the Keystone state. Here are some excerpts:

Local crooks in the big house now have a better reason to change their ways. The state's Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Act went into effect this week. It means many nonviolent offenders, such as drug users and serial shoplifters sentenced to a state prison term, must be given a third, incentive-based sentence along with their minimum and maximum sentence.

For court staff, the new law means a lot of math: The RRRI sentences would be equal to three-fourths of the minimum sentence imposed when the minimum sentence is three years or less, or five-sixths of the minimum sentence if the minimum sentence is more than three years.  Inmates must complete programs like anger management and substance abuse counseling to meet the terms of their RRRI.  It would be up to the state Parole Board to decide if they are successful.

“This is one to watch,” said Bucks County President Judge David Heckler. “This is something that holds them accountable, but also provides them with the tools they need to successfully reenter society.”... 

Even before defendants can begin any of the court-ordered programs judges tack onto their sentence, they must go through a lengthy classification process to determine which of the state's 27 prisons is the best fit for them.... 

Whether the RRRI act will go smoothly remains to be seen. Although the new law went into effect Nov. 24, an education plan for lawyers and judges is in the works. To be eligible for an RRRI sentence, defendants must meet [many] requirements....  The RRRI law is modeled after a successful New York program. Lawmakers will monitor the program for the next two years and make changes, if needed.

November 26, 2008 at 09:59 AM | Permalink


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my son with be goin to prison and i was wondering if he qualified for this program

Posted by: debbie | Jan 25, 2010 4:12:26 PM

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