Money Saving Criminal Justice Reforms Proposed

May 24th, 2012 by admin

A bipartisan work group, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, was presented with the findings of a five-month analysis, studying ways to make the state safer while simultaneously saving money. The research, completed by the Council of State Governments Justice Center in partnership with the Pew Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice, showed that the state could save about $351 million and reinvest $88 million into public safety over a 5 year period.

The work group is comprised of judges, lawmakers, state and local leaders, and state cabinet members, according to Gant Daily. They met this week at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delin Money Saving Criminal Justice Reforms Proposedquency in Harrisburg.

Similar studies and recommendations have been done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center in 15 other states, helping policymakers in those states save money and reinvest in public safety using smarter criminal justice policies and procedures.

According to Gant Daily, the four main recommendations made to the work group include:

  • Help law enforcement deter crime by providing funding for training and equipment, as well as financing for problem-oriented policing and partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In addition, the plan calls for support of statewide and community-based victim services.
  • Expand local resources to reduce recidivism by increasing funds to counties that maximize probation and other options besides state prison. Such alternative sentences could include electronic monitoring, day reporting, intensive supervision and treatment, in addition to several months in county jails versus state prison. Currently, incarcerating offenders with short minimum sentences costs the state $100 million.
  • Improve efficiencies in the parole process, which would generate savings by reducing the state prison population. The analysis found that one-third of the people sentenced to Pennsylvania’s state prisons remain incarcerated an average of 200 days beyond their minimum sentence date in order to complete programming.
  • Increase accountability and improve the use of community correction centers, for people who are either transitioning from prison to the community, or for those who fail to comply with the conditions of parole. Only 15 percent of the bed space at community corrections centers is used by parole violators. Consequently, the cost of sanctioning most parole violators is shifted to prison, which cost the state $78 million in 2011.

As with most criminal justice policies, the goal is to balance cost with effectiveness. The state wants to spend as little as possible while maintaining the safest environment for its residents. By saving money on one hand, and reinvesting those savings into smart policies, they hope they can balance the system and possibly even improve upon it.

The work group must now decide which of the proposals to adopt and how to go about doing so, whether through legislation or policy implementation.

Criminal justice policies, like criminal laws, are always changing. The system is mind-numbingly complex. If you are accused of violating a crime, it would be understandable if you felt completely lost. Having someone on your side, whether you are charged with DUI or even aggravated assault, can help make sense of things.

Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help. As local defense attorneys, it’s our job to ensure our clients are treated fairly and understand the system as they navigate it.