Albert Einstein is said to have remarked that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We the undersigned submit that unfortunately, that same definition could be applied to Pennsylvania's current criminal justice policies. What we have been doing is locking more and more people up for longer and longer and spending more and more money. The facts are clear:
- Pennsylvania's per capita incarceration rate has exploded by more than 500% since 1980, requiring the construction of 18 new prisons—with more on the way, each costing $200 million to build—and has not decreased in recent years as many other states have.
- As a result, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' budget has skyrocketed since 1980 and is now the third largest of all state agencies.
- The best research to date indicates that while imprisonment keeps offenders from committing crimes while in prison, it does not make them less likely to commit crimes after release, and may even make them more likely to do so.
- Several states have been able to significantly reduce both their crime rate and imprisonment rate over the past decade, demonstrating that prison populations can be significantly reduced without compromising public safety and improving outcomes.
We therefore urge the Governor and General Assembly to adopt proven public policies that have worked in other states to reduce both crime and waste. Specifically, it is our goal to spearhead the adoption of policies that (a) will prove transformative and (b) are actually achievable in the near term. The situation is far too serious to focus on solutions that will not dramatically change the status quo or to expend effort on the unachievable.
List of Signatories
- Hon. George M. Leader, Former Governor
- Hon. Richard Alloway, State Senator, 33rd District
- Andrew Barnes, Director of Victim Services, Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate
- Gene Barr, President & CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- Hon. John Bear, State Representative, 97th District
- Mark Bergstrom, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing
- Hon. Stephen Bloom, State Representative, 199th District
- Matthew J. Brouillette, President & CEO, Commonwealth Foundation
- Hon. Bryan Cutler, State Representative, 100th District
- Cynthia L. Daub, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Probation and Parole
- Hon. Gordon Denlinger, State Representative, 99th District
- Hon. Gene DiGirolamo, State Representative, 18th District
- William DiMascio, Executive Director, The Prison Society
- Hon. Brian Ellis, State Representative, 11th District
- Michael Geer, President, Pennsylvania Family Institute
- Hon. Robert W. Godshall, State Representative, 53rd District
- Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., Former Mayor of Philadelphia
- Hon. Stewart J. Greenleaf, State Senator, 12th District
- Hon. Glen Grell, State Representative, 87th District
- Jane Leader Janeczek, Director of Special Projects, Country Meadows Retirement Communities
- G. Michael Leader III, President & CEO, Country Meadows Retirement Communities
- Dr. Doris MacKenzie, Director, Penn State Justice Center for Research and Prof. of Crime, Law and Justice and Sociology
- Hon. Bob Mensch, State Senator, 24th District
- Dr. Kiminori Nakamura, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
- Hon. Donna Oberlander, State Representative, 63rd District
- Brinda Carroll Penyak, Deputy Director, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
- Hon. Ernest D. Preate, Jr., Former Attorney General
- Jonathan Z. Queen, Minister
- Hon. Martin Schmotzer, State Representative, 22nd District
- Reginald T. Shuford, Esq., Executive Director, ACLU of Pennsylvania
- Hon. Mark Singel, Former Lieutenant Governor
- Hon. Timothy J. Solobay, State Senator, 46th District
- Hon. Tarah Toohil, State Representative, 116th District
- Hon. Dan Truitt, State Representative, 156th District
- Hon. Jack Wagner, Auditor General
- Hon. John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections
- P. Thomas Zeager, President & Founder, Justice & Mercy
In 1955, George M Leader, a former Democratic state senator from York County, was inaugurated as Pennsylvania's 38th Governor. This infographic tells the story of Pennsylvania's corrections experience from 1955 to the present day. Commonwealth Foundation is pleased to partner with Governor Leader and his family to offer a new 21st Century vision for criminal justice.