Legislation that targets prison over- crowding, recidivism and aims to reduce cost of imprisonment was recently cleared unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery sponsored the legislation, SB 100. It contains some new prison reform provision and some left over from last session, his office said.

In a statement, Greenleaf said the measure continues the prison reform movement in Pennsylvania, makes better use of already existing alternative sentencing programs, and relies on principles that have been proven highly effective in other states.

The Criminal Justice Reform Act would (summary provided by Senate Judiciary Committee):

  • The bill allows the Department of Corrections (DOC) to quickly move offenders with short minimum sentences to community corrections centers for community-based treatment.
  • The bill establishes the Safe Community Reentry Program. The legislation requires the DOC to establish a comprehensive program to reduce recidivism and ensure the successful reentry and reintegration of offenders into the community.
  • The bill will make more nonviolent offenders eligible for Pennsylvania's alternative sentencing programs. These programs include county intermediate punishment (CIP), state intermediate punishment (SIP), state motivational boot camp, and the recidivism risk reduction incentive (RRRI).
  • The bill establishes a county probation program providing for swift, predictable and immediate sanctions on offenders who violate their probation. Currently, parole violations are often punished with lengthy prison sentences that are costly to taxpayers, and fail to reduce recidivism.