A new report says Pennsylvania could save tens of millions by keeping low-level offenders out of the prison system and reserving expensive prison beds for those convicted of serious crimes.
The report released Wednesday by The Council of State Governments also recommends shifting more prisoners nearing parole into intensive residential programs. It says savings from decreased reliance on expensive prison space would more than pay for other reforms it recommends.
Council researchers spent months analyzing Pennsylvania’s corrections system for a 28-member panel that includes state officials, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.
The report says the correctional system faces serious challenges, including an inefficient parole process that keeps many inmates in prison even after they’re approved for parole.
Pennsylvania spends nearly $2 billion a year on prisons that now hold 51,000 inmates.