Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s decision to suspend paroles after a parolee killed a Philadelphia police officer “was a decision that never should have been made – a knee-jerk reaction that punishes thousands for the misdeeds of one,” contends William DiMascio of the Pennsylvania Prison Society. Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, DiMascio asks, “With no hope for parole, what incentive exists for inmates to behave?” The freeze means about 1,100 prisoners a month who would have been released will now be stacked up in a system already operating at 117 percent of capacity. This is needlessly courting danger for the thousands of inmates and staff inside the prisons, DiMascio says.
A former prosecutor noted: “If surgery results in a patient’s death, do we suspend surgical procedures? If a prosecutor convicts an innocent person, do we suspend prosecutions?  Only parole is supposed to be infallible and risk-free? Says DiMascio: “We have become so punitive that our systems are simply overwhelmed. Far too many nonviolent offenders – some say half of the state prison population – are held in expensive facilities designed for the most dangerous offenders. Huge chunks of the $1.7 billion corrections budget are wasted on warehousing men and women who pose little or no threat to public safety.”