After a year marked by horrific crimes committed by repeat violent offenders, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has called for legislation to keep them locked up longer. “The parole system simply doesn’t work for these violent individuals who use deadly weapons,” he said. “It works for nonviolent offenders. In 2007, 95 percent of the state’s nonviolent 31,000 parolees were not rearrested. But not for this dangerous group of individuals  who learn to game the system.”
Rendell’s effort would not change the sentencing guidelines that judges employ or the factors that parole boards can consider. He would require judges to sentence repeat violent offenders to fixed terms instead of ranges, eliminating any opportunity for early release. He said: “Obviously, unless they are lifers, violent offenders have to be released at some point, but this buys the public some time.” Rendell’s proposal was criticized by some civil-rights advocates who said it would result in less discretion for judges and more crowding in already stuffed prisons. The governor said he was motivated in part by three deaths of police officers at the hands of repeat offenders.