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Politics & Government

Senate Set To Vote On Corrections Reform

The state Senate is expected to give its approval today to prison reform legislation, which is receiving bipartisan support.

Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said SB100 is a "solid step" toward improving the corrections system in Pennsylvania and includes ideas proposed by his caucus, "including increased programming for short term nonviolent offenders to help effectuate their timely release back into the community, aggressively utilizing alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders and increasing the use of treatment programs," Costa said.

The goal of the bill is to reduce the prison population without posing a risk to the public. There are currently 51,600 inmates in 27 state prisons.

The measure would allow for more nonviolent offenders to be eligible for alternative sentencing programs, such as county and state intermediate punishment, state motivational boot camp, and incentives to reduce recidivism.

According to Costa, the legislation requires the formation of the Community Reentry Program "and requires Department of Corrections to create a comprehensive program to reduce recidivism and ensure the successful reentry and reintegration of offenders into the community."

State spending on corrections has soared from $185 million in 1985 to $1.8 billion this year. The Department of Corrections receives the fourth largest appropriation in the state budget. Costa said approving SB100 will help ease overcrowding and keep prison costs in check while maintaining public safety.