Pa. prisons told to prepare for increased parole population

    Pennsylvania is asking other states to help with its overcrowded prisons. The state now houses about 50,000 inmates, which is about 8,000 more prisoners than it can handle.

    Pennsylvania is asking other states to help with its overcrowded prisons. The state now houses about 50,000 inmates, which is about 8,000 more prisoners than it can handle.

    Pennsylvania’s corrections chief says the problem got worse when a temporary moratorium on parole was instituted last year. This resulted in fewer inmates getting released.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091117spprison.mp3]

    After a parolee killed a Philadelphia Police officer last year, Governor Ed Rendell issued a halt on all inmate paroles pending a report. The moratorium lasted just two months but it was long enough to clog a system already overburdened with a growing prison population.

    John Goldkamp is a criminal justice professor at Temple University who issued the review of the state’s parole system. Goldkamp says the challenge will be to keep the prison population down, while at the same time insure public safety.

    Goldkamp: Its payback time. We’ve been going through now a couple of decades of longer sentences, mandatory sentences, one strike, two strikes and we’ve really developed our prison population. Well everybody’s sentence comes to an end sometime.

    Goldkamp says the state needs to prepare for an increase of inmates re-entering society.

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