The Pennsylvania Senate has unanimously passed the second phase of a prison reform plan, outlining the formula by which savings will be returned to local governments for improved policing and probation services, says the Harrisburg Patriot-News. A law signed in July seeks to divert nonviolent, addicted offenders from state prison by better treating their addiction issues at the local level.
The estimated savings of the reform recommendations from the Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group were projected to top $250 million over five years. Most of that would be reinvested back into local communities for improved law enforcement and evidence-based treatment. Not all of the recommendations made it into the final law, and the estimated savings was revised downward to $142 million. The state will determine how much the Department of Corrections saved in the previous year from the reforms, a portion of those savings will then be put into a special fund to be distributed to state agencies and local governments. At first, 75 percent of the savings will go into the fund; the following year, the savings put into the fund is limited to $21 million, after that 25 percent of savings will go into the fund. First to benefit will be the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which will receive $1 million to develop a statewide victim notification system and other victim services.