Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Thursday signed into law the second half of a sentencing reform package expected to curb the state’s rising prison population and associated costs.
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative law is expected to reduce the state prison population by reducing parole system inefficiencies and imposing alternative punishments to more inmates, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The law also shifts part of the savings from the changes to programs aimed stopping crime and preventing convicts from returning to prison.
"The answer isn't always to build bigger prisons," the Republican governor said in his signing statement. "Sometimes the answer lies in smarter solutions that help us build fewer prisons and better communities."
According to Department of Corrections estimates, the changes should lead 2,565 fewer inmates by the end of June 2017 and cost cuts of $253 million. Savings will be used to fund such things as online police training, county probation system improvements, and service programs for victims.
The first part of the bill was signed into law this past summer, and state officials said it has already help reduce the inmate population by 385.
The second part of the bill focusing more directly on prisoners, allowing many of them to serve time in county jails close to home and families, all in hopes of keeping released prisoners from returning.
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