Corrections Coalition, Dynamic Duo Dandy Says Patriot

Hats off to the Patriot-News Editorial Board for calling for an end to the status quo approach to criminal justice that has failed Pennsylvanians.

Today’s editorial highlights the dynamic father-daughter duo of former Gov. George Leader, Pennsylvania’s 38th Governor, and his daughter, Jane Janeczek. These two crossed party lines to form a coalition to restore commonsense to Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

The Patriot-News had this to say about the coalition:

When groups as diverse as the conservative-leaning Commonwealth Foundation and the liberal-leaning American Civil Liberties Union are standing together calling for action, lawmakers would have to be deaf not to hear.

The Commonwealth Foundation is pleased to be a part of this important and timely group. Over the last 30 years, the state’s prison population grew by 500 percent, drastically outpacing violent crime rates. As the prison population exploded, the state needed more prisons, staff and tax dollars. State corrections spending is now the third-largest department in the General Fund Budget.

The Patriot-News sums the problem up:

The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” mentality has not produced safer communities. Certainly the most egregious offenders will need to spend their life behind bars, but the vast majority – 90 percent – of offenders spend time behind bars and then re-enter society.

Our corrections system is not preparing people adequately for what happens after they are released. Human services, police, religious and other community groups are rightly asking: Can’t we do better?

As this editorial board understands, the answer is yes. Other states such as Texas and New York have been able to significantly reduce both their crime rate and imprisonment rate, saving tax dollars while improving public safety.

Another promising group working to correct the state’s corrections system is the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), a working group commissioned by Gov. Tom Corbett. JRI will release its formal recommendations tomorrow, stay tuned to learn how these reforms can provide meaningful changes.

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