Pennsylvania officials are working to streamline parole interviews and focus halfway house rehabilitation on their parolees as they implement a law designed to save millions of dollars in corrections spending, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Efficiency measures and program overhauls in the state’s penitentiary system are expected to save $253 million over five years. One goal of the program is to help prisoners integrate into communities. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, the law’s sponsor, said the prison return rate is 44 percent, and that focusing programs and spending on parolees would help lower that rate.
“Halfway houses” will house only parolees because a decades-old practice known as pre-release will no longer be an option for inmates as of July 1, 2013. Halfway houses traditionally held both pre-release and paroled inmates, but that caused confusion in the halfway houses because each group had different requirements they had to meet from the state based on their release status. Paroled inmates have served their minimum sentence or longer, while pre-release inmates have not reached that minimum date. Analysts from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, who advised legislators, recommended increasing the number of parole interviews held each month by 20 percent by 2015. Efficiency measures, such as converting to electronic systems, will help the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole see more inmates, spokesman Leo Dunn said.