Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiatives of 2012 and 2019 successfully reduced the state’s prison population while maintaining community safety. But our work is far from over. With a state recidivism rate of 41 percent, now is the time for reforms that promote reintegration into society and enable the criminal justice system to focus its resources where it counts. Pennsylvania can continue to lead the nation in powerful criminal justice reforms that preserve public safety, save taxpayer resources, and promote true rehabilitation.

Criminal Justice Reform

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Jessica Barnett
  • August 3, 2022

Key Points The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force (Task Force) found most youth entering the juvenile justice system committed low-level offenses and are “low risk to reoffend.”[1]Studies…

Backgrounder

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Criminal Justice Reform

Why Pennsylvania Needs Probation Reform

  • Brandon Van Dyck
  • December 15, 2021

Pennsylvania has an overburdened probation system that delivers substandard results. The commonwealth’s recidivism rate is 41 percent—one of the highest in the nation.

Backgrounder

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Criminal Justice Reform

Lawmakers Move Two Key Criminal Justice Reforms

  • Jessica Barnett
  • June 24, 2020

Pennsylvania General lawmakers moved two key criminal justice reform bills aimed at improving Pennsylvania’s onerous probation system and limiting the excessive burdens of a criminal record.

Memo

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Criminal Justice Reform

Legislation Moves to Reform Licensing Laws for Citizens with Criminal Records

  • Jessica Barnett
  • June 16, 2020

With a unanimous committee vote, the state House has opened the door to prosperity for 3 million Pennsylvanians. This week, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee passed legislation helping incarcerated citizens…

Media

Read More: Legislation Moves to Reform Licensing Laws for Citizens with Criminal Records

Criminal Justice Reform

Pa. Tackles Two New Law Enforcement Reforms

  • Jessica Barnett
  • June 12, 2020

Pennsylvanians are voicing their concern on policing reform. Encouragingly, lawmakers are listening to constituents and pursuing meaningful, balanced policing reform.

Commentary

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Criminal Justice Reform

Ensure Prisoner Release is Reasonable and Safe During COVID-19

  • April 10, 2020

April 10, 2020, Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, Governor Wolf announced that his administration will be releasing qualified state prisoners under the Temporary Program to Reprieve Sentences of Incarceration Program. The Commonwealth Foundation…

Press Release

Read More: Ensure Prisoner Release is Reasonable and Safe During COVID-19

Criminal Justice Reform

How Pa. Can Keep Prisons and Communities Safe During Coronavirus

  • April 6, 2020

Pennsylvania’s prisons and jails are particularly vulnerable to the quick spread of COVID-19. Here are several recommendations for mitigating the risk in our corrections system while protecting public safety.  …

Fact Sheet

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Criminal Justice Reform

Pa. Prison Population Plummets by Most in History — Again

  • January 21, 2020

January 21, 2020, Harrisburg, Pa.—Pennsylvania’s prison population dropped by 1,495 individuals in 2019, according to new Department of Corrections numbers—the sharpest decline ever recorded. The number of incarcerated Pennsylvanians…

Press Release

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Criminal Justice Reform

CF’s 2020 Vision

  • January 1, 2020

The Commonwealth Foundation’s mission sounds pretty simple: transform free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish. Accomplishing that mission—with a divided government, powerful special interests, and a diverse…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Crime Declines as Pa. Passes Criminal Justice Reforms

  • Jessica Barnett
  • December 30, 2019

Responsible, smart reforms are paying dividends in Pennsylvania’s correction system—and recently passed reforms aim to build upon this success. The state Department of Corrections released a statement and…

Media

Read More: Crime Declines as Pa. Passes Criminal Justice Reforms

Criminal Justice Reform

Pa. Leading Nation on Smart Justice Reform

  • December 18, 2019

December 18, 2019, Harrisburg, Pa. – Today, the Pa. Legislature passed two bills that firmly establish Pennsylvania as a national leader on criminal justice reform. Senate Bills 500 and…

Press Release

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Criminal Justice Reform

Pa. Senate Passes Legislation Removing Employment Barriers

  • Jessica Barnett
  • November 23, 2019

Individuals like Ericka Miller and Amanda Spillane are one step closer to having a fair opportunity to pursue success and live their American dream. On Thursday, the state Senate…

Media

Read More: Pa. Senate Passes Legislation Removing Employment Barriers

Criminal Justice Reform

Rallying for Probation Reform

  • Jessica Barnett
  • September 27, 2019

Earlier this week, hundreds of activists gathered in the capitol in support of probation reform. Here’s what Pennsylvanians impacted by the probation system have to say: “I couldn’t…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

School to Prison Pipeline? Here’s the Escape Valve

  • Marc LeBlond
  • August 21, 2019

Anthony Samuels is “the only male in my family that doesn’t have a record.” Rather, Anthony is a college graduate and a business owner. At an age when many…

Media

Read More: School to Prison Pipeline? Here’s the Escape Valve

Criminal Justice Reform

School Choice on Behalf of Pa.’s Poorest Should Be a Bipartisan Issue

  • Colleen Hroncich
  • July 14, 2019

In Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and throughout the country, Republicans and Democrats have come together to pass smart criminal justice reforms that help people achieve independence and prosperity…

Media

Read More: School Choice on Behalf of Pa.’s Poorest Should Be a Bipartisan Issue

Criminal Justice Reform

Does Justice Reinvestment Work?

  • Jessica Barnett
  • July 1, 2019

One of the foremost, data-driven efforts in the nation to make criminal justice truly fair and effective is under consideration in the Pennsylvania House after a unanimous vote in the…

Media

Read More: Does Justice Reinvestment Work?

Criminal Justice Reform

Corrections Reform for Safer Communities

  • Jessica Barnett
  • June 11, 2019

Nowadays, Republicans and Democrats struggle to find common ground. In the rare moments when they do, you can be sure you’ve got a winning policy. Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Up, Up, and Away: Snapshots from Wolf’s Budget

  • May 21, 2019

Soon lawmakers in Harrisburg will begin debating the 2019-2020 budget and what to do with excess revenue from the booming economy. Here’s your two-minute summary of the budget situation and…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Should Pa. Wreck Lives Over a Technicality?

  • Jessica Barnett
  • May 16, 2019

Pennsylvania’s correctional system has a “revolving door” problem. Over 63 percent of the correctional population will return to prison within three years. To change Pennsylvania’s reputation as “imprisonment king”…

Media

Read More: Should Pa. Wreck Lives Over a Technicality?