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December 19, 2015
 
Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group Unanimously Approves Final Recommendations  
 
Will Save $108 million, create safer communities, support crime victims
 

Harrisburg, PA. —Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Working Group unanimously approved their final recommendations on criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania. The implementation of these reforms would result in a savings of $108 million, make our communities safer and protect the rights of victims.

“Today was the culmination of a yearlong, bipartisan effort to examine the data behind Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, and use that data to develop new and innovative ways to save money, increase public safety and protect the interests of victims,” said Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Chairman Josh Shapiro. “I am proud of the work that the JRI Working Group has accomplished and that this was done in a bipartisan manner.”

In September 2015, Governor Tom Wolf reached out to the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts to request technical assistance in undergoing a second phase of JRI in Pennsylvania. Upon their agreement to provide this assistance, Governor Wolf appointed PCCD Chairman Shapiro to chair a working group to lead this effort. With the assistance of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, this working group has agreed on six recommendations for criminal justice system improvements for Pennsylvania.

Recommendations:

1.    Support public safety for victims by serving more people, more effectively.

2.    Improve pretrial decision making to increase public safety and decrease county prison costs.

3.    Revise polices to guide sentencing decisions to reduce recidivism.

4.    Increase the use of effective probation interventions to lower recidivism.

5.    Make short prison sentences more predictable and less expansive.

6.    Improve recidivism results for parolees by targeting resources and responses.

A detailed report from the working group will be available early next year along with drafts of legislation to implement these changes.

“We believe these recommendations could affect real, positive change in the criminal justice system,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “We look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to codify these improvements to Pennsylvania's criminal justice system, improving public safety and reducing costs.” 

The mission of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency is to increase the safety of our communities by enhancing the quality of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and the services offered to those that have been a victim of a crime.

MEDIA CONTACT: Matthew Leonard, 717.265.8539