Under Gov. Tom Corbett’s leadership, Pennsylvania unanimously passed (Senate Bill 100) part of a landmark corrections reform package last session.
SB 100, now Act 122 of 2012, aims to reduce both crime and imprisonment rates in Pennsylvania, while providing upwards of $300 million in savings over the next five years. The bill’s effectiveness, however, depends on passing HB 135—currently stuck in the Senate—which would reinvest a portion of the savings in programs that create a more cost effective and smarter correctional system.
- The programs waiting to be funded would encourage smarter policing procedures, whether it be “hot spot” policing, or improving parole procedures. The bill also funds programs aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders.
- One of the key programs funded through HB 135 is a county diversion program that ensures counties have the resources to handle nonviolent offenders with short sentences locally, instead of sending them to costly state prisons where they can be influenced by hardened criminals.
Together, Act 22 and HB 135 allow us the opportunity to reinvest a small portion of our savings to ensure long term savings, along with making our state a safer place.
However, unlike baseball, 1 for 2 is not a good batting average. The legislature should make passing HB 135 a priority this fall.