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

Safe and Smart: Fixing Harsh Life Sentences

  • September 21, 2018

In this second blog in our Safe and Smart series, we tackle Pennsylvania’s practice of sentencing offenders to life without parole (LWOP). LWOP is coming under greater scrutiny from people across the…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Philadelphia Forced to Reform Unjust Confiscation

  • Elizabeth Stelle
  • September 21, 2018

Four years ago we told you the story of Markela and Chris Sourovelis, Philadelphians who lost their home when their son committed a minor drug crime thanks to an…

Media

Read More: Philadelphia Forced to Reform Unjust Confiscation

Criminal Justice Reform

Safe and Smart: Restructuring Pa.’s Probation System

  • September 13, 2018

CF’s newest policy brief, Safer Communities, Smarter Spending, provides a unique look at the problems in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. The commonwealth’s incarceration rate is too high. Its supervision…

Media

Read More: Safe and Smart: Restructuring Pa.’s Probation System

Criminal Justice Reform

Safer Communities, Smarter Spending

  • September 11, 2018

About 95 percent of those confined to state prison will eventually re-enter society. This is why reformers must focus attention on reducing recidivism and balance "tough on crime" practices of the past…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Safer Communities, Smarter Spending

Criminal Justice Reform

Removing Barriers to Work for Ex-Offenders

  • Elizabeth Stelle
  • August 15, 2018

Pennsylvania has a 3-year recidivism rate of nearly 61 percent. Research shows one of the most critical components of successful re-entry is a job. But for 255…

Memo

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Criminal Justice Reform

Spending Trends & Policy Developments Under Gov. Wolf

  • Nathan Benefield
  • July 31, 2018

In the last four years Pennsylvania has experienced rapid state spending growth. On the plus side, constant tax hike proposals have been largely rejected and policies like pension reform, school…

Memo

Read More: Spending Trends & Policy Developments Under Gov. Wolf

Criminal Justice Reform

Another Step Towards Reducing Barriers to Work

  • Elizabeth Stelle
  • July 23, 2018

Pennsylvania licenses over 250 occupations, creating unnecessary bureaucracy and obstacles to good paying jobs. Across the country states like Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Nebraska are eliminating licensure requirements…

Media

Read More: Another Step Towards Reducing Barriers to Work

Criminal Justice Reform

Bipartisan Support for a Second Chance

  • June 28, 2018

We all deserve a second chance. This is the core principle underlying “clean slate” legislation, which the legislature overwhelmingly approved last week. The measure, House Bill 1419, sponsored by…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Unanimous Senate Vote Advances Criminal Justice Reform

  • May 2, 2018

The state Senate embraced criminal justice reform this week by unanimously passing three pieces of legislation comprising the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) II reforms. The first slate of JRI…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Pennsylvania’s Overspending Problem Still Proving Costly

  • February 16, 2018

To balance last year’s budget, Gov. Wolf and lawmakers agreed to dedicate a portion of Tobacco Settlement Fund payments to cover a $1.5 billion bond issuance. This decision to…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reforms Continue to Benefit Pennsylvanians

  • January 23, 2018

Pennsylvania’s bipartisan criminal justice efforts are continuing to pay dividends. According to statistics released by the Department of Corrections (DOC), the state’s prison population fell by 863 inmates—the…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

How to Revamp Pa.’s Criminal Justice System

  • July 3, 2017

Pennsylvania can reduce its prison population by more than 1,000 people while saving approximately $108 million over five years, according to a Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Working Group Report.

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Policy Memo: Principles for State Budget

  • Nathan Benefield
  • June 14, 2017

With the 2017 budget, lawmakers have an opportunity to double down on the idea of reinventing government and adopt meaningful reforms that will save taxpayers money, stimulate economic growth, and improve services…

Memo

Read More: Policy Memo: Principles for State Budget

Criminal Justice Reform

Senate Advances Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform

  • May 26, 2017

Should bureaucratic inefficiencies decide the fate of parole violators? The obvious answer is no. That's just one reason why 38 senators voted in favor of SB 522. The legislation…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Budget Solution of the Week: Corrections Reform

  • January 13, 2017

The Department of Corrections (DOC) recently announced its intentions to close two state prisons and reduce capacity at community corrections facilities (halfway houses). These decisions will cut state incarceration…

Media

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Criminal Justice Reform

Embracing Innovation in State Government

  • December 21, 2016

Conventional governing is hampering Pennsylvania’s progress. Growing state budgets combined with one-time revenue transfers and targeted tax hikes are delaying the structural reforms essential to improving the quality…

Fact Sheet

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Criminal Justice Reform

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Effort Gutted

  • Elizabeth Stelle
  • October 7, 2016

North Philadelphian Carol Johnson* saved $2,000 from her pension checks by storing the money in an upstairs bedroom. One day, the 87 year old's savings vanished in a matter…

Media

Read More: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Effort Gutted

Criminal Justice Reform

Keystone Criminal Justice

  • Charles Mitchell
  • July 19, 2016

As lifelong conservatives, we’re proud to call ourselves tough on crime and to support lengthy prison terms for dangerous felons. But after a long, taxpayer-funded era of mass incarceration, it’s…

Commentary

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Criminal Justice Reform

My Journey to Commonwealth Foundation’s Board

  • June 30, 2016

How did a registered Democrat and the daughter of former Democratic Governor George Leader find a place on Commonwealth Foundation’s Board? …

Commentary

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Criminal Justice Reform

2012 Corrections Reform Still Paying Off

  • Nathan Benefield
  • January 20, 2016

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf and Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel announced that Pennsylvania’s prison population declined last year by the largest amount since 1971. The number of imates declined by…

Media

Read More: 2012 Corrections Reform Still Paying Off