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JRI in Pennsylvania (2011-2012)

In 2011, Pennsylvania initiated the process of employing a data-driven JRI approach to reduce corrections spending and reinvest a portion of the savings generated in strategies to increase public safety.

At that time, the Commonwealth was facing a crisis in the making, as a state prison population projection of approximately 56,082 by December 2014 -- an increase of over 4,500 inmates -- would have necessitated a new prison being built each year to safely house the population. 

Using funding from the Pew Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and technical assistance from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a bi-partisan, inter-branch task force was created to delve into the Commonwealth’s criminal justice data and develop policy recommendations and legislation to achieve these goals. 

The final report of the 2011 Task Force was adopted in May 2012 and targeted four main areas for improvement, including: training and equipment for law enforcement, including problem-oriented policing and partnerships among agencies; expanding local resources to counties that maximize probation and other options instead of state prison, including alternative sentences; improving efficiencies in the parole process; and increasing accountability of and improving the use of community correction centers (CCCs) in PA.  Act 122 of 2012 and Act 196 of 2012 were subsequently passed to implement these recommendations and redirect savings to be reinvested in supporting victims’ services, local law enforcement, county probation and parole and other programs and services.

Since the adoption of Acts 122 and 196, Pennsylvania has realized a reduction in the total state inmate population.  In 2014, the inmate population within the state correctional institutions decreased by 908, which is the largest one-year drop in population since 1971, and the fourth time in the past 40 years that the population has shown an annual decrease rather than an increase.  More information about the outcomes of Pennsylvania’s JRI experience from 2011 to present can be found on a digital dashboard.