Safer Communities, Smarter Spending

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Six years ago, Pennsylvania enacted a corrections reform package that successfully trimmed the state prison population and continued reducing Pennsylvania’s crime rate. Still, Pennsylvania maintains the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast. In too many cases, incarceration remains the default even when another method of punishment is more effective at deterring crime.

This brief presents specific recommendations to continue improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. The recommendations include reducing the commonwealth’s prison population through automatic parole; increasing the use of alternatives to incarceration and well-informed sentencing guidelines; creating a consistent and effective probation system; addressing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions; and implementing options to help those convicted of a crime pay down fines, restitution, or court costs.

Onerous sentencing and bureaucratic red tape do not make Pennsylvanians safer. They only add to an already unacceptable level of bloat in our criminal justice system. With these reforms, lawmakers can improve public safety and continue reducing the correctional population.