Technical parole violations cost Pa. about $100 million a year, report finds

This June 1, 2018, file photo, shows a housing unit in the west section of the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix in Collegeville, Pa. (Jacqueline Larma/AP Photo)

This June 1, 2018, file photo, shows a housing unit in the west section of the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix in Collegeville, Pa. (Jacqueline Larma/AP Photo)

This article appeared on PA Post.

A new report estimates that Pennsylvania is spending about $100 million a year to house state prison inmates for technical parole violations, such as missing curfew or failing a drug test.

On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated in Pennsylvania for some kind of supervision violation, according to the report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

John Wetzel, the state corrections secretary, said too many inmates are locked up for technical violations.

“The reality of it is that, often times, these technical parole violations, when they result in incarceration, really lead to further crime and further violation,” Wetzel said.

He said people who are sent back to prison for minor violations can lose contact with their support network and lose work.

He said the report shows that legislative changes are needed. There is bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate to change how long people can stay under probation.

The report also says:

  • On any given day in Pennsylvania, there are 7,443 people incarcerated because of some type of supervision violation — either a new criminal charge or a technical violation.
  • Based on estimated state prison costs per day, that adds up to a cost about $334 million a year, including $101 million for technical supervision violations.
  • In Pennsylvania, 54 percent of state prison admissions are for supervision violations.
  • Nationwide, 45 of state prison admissions are for probation or parole violations.

The report focuses on state-funded incarceration, not the cost for county jails.

The Justice Center report was funded by Arnold Ventures, a philanthropic organization that says, nationwide, high failure rates for probation and parole lead to over-punishment and higher prison costs.


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