Monday, October 29, 2012

NY: Local jails overcrowded, send inmates to state prison

NY experience may be eye-opener for PA JRI

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is under way in Pennsylvania.  One of the initiative's major components is the diversion of state inmates from state correctional facilities to local county jails.

In New York "under-filled" state prisons are being looked at as a means to relieve costly overcrowding in local jails.  New York state legislators feel the length of time it takes for inmates to be transferred to state prisons is too long, according to CYN Central.

Pennsylvania is counting on using the savings from reducing the state prison population to fund local efforts like incentivizing counties to keep state prisoners in local jails.   According to the sheriffs of three counties, holding state prisoners is costing taxpayers in those county jails more than $2 million per year. It costs up to $100 per day to house an inmate in a local jail, reported CYN.

Following a meeting on local jail crowding State Senator Patty Ritchie said  "The meeting stems from an effort ... to provide additional mandate relief for local taxpayers by addressing the problem of state prisoners being held in local county jails."

Often a parole violator will spend months in a local jail before he or she is transferred to a state prison. Ritchie says many state prisons are under-filled and she's proposed using the existing prisons  as "hubs" to hold state parole violators, reported CYN.

Last year, the State Senate passed a bill that would require the State Corrections to transfer parole violators to state prisons within 10 days, or the state would bear the costs. The bill was referred to the State Assembly but did not come up for a vote.

The overcrowding problem is some counties that legislators are looking into alternatives that will allow accused criminals to remain in the community with GPS tracking devises, according to CYN.

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