With every violent crime committed by a repeat offender, get-tough politicians and police bemoan crime’s incalculable cost to society – the lost victims, the rising public-safety fears, the ruined reputation of a thug-choked city. Now, says the Philadelphia Daily News, there’s a preliminary price tag on a plan that would stiffen sentences and end parole for repeat violent offenders in Pennsylvania: $55.8 million. The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing estimates that a proposal by State Rep. Brendan Boyle’s could dump an additional 1,685 inmates into the state’s 50,653-inmate system, at a projected 30-year cost of $55.8 million.
In a violence-weary city and state, Boyle’s bill quickly got a high-five from the governor and other bigwigs, and is getting fast-tracked through the state House. As policymakers ponder how to shrink ballooning correctional costs in a state that spends $1.6 billion on prisons yearly, the staggering sum has some folks questioning whether the plan is worth it. Critics complain that the bill is a knee-jerk reaction to the recent police slayings and will only make things worse. Eliminating parole removes the incentive for inmates to behave behind bars, said Bill DiMascio of the Pennsylvania Prison Society.