Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel announced that the agency ended the calendar year with a population of 51,184 inmates.
“This is a decrease of 454 inmates from last calendar year,” said DOC Planning, Research and Statistics Director Kristofer Bucklen. “This also was the largest one-year drop in our population since 1971, and only the third time in the past 40 years that our population has shown an annual decrease rather than an increase.”
“Our declining inmate population shows that we are on the right track to improving our corrections system,” Wetzel said. “Gov. Corbett began leading this reform by ordering the corrections system to analyze and improve ourselves.’’
“This is a strong indication that the Corbett Corrections Reform is starting to yield results for the citizens of Pennsylvania. At the same time, the Governor initiated the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), in which he set the benchmark by urging JRI members to reach their goals in only a matter of months. In other states, similar efforts take years. Taking a bi-partisan, participatory planning approach, this process should allow us to build on the progress we’ve made within the administration.”
This population decrease was a joint accomplishment involving many in the criminal justice continuum, especially the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, Wetzel said.
Fewer court commitments combined with policy changes that enable Pennsylvania to both reduce spending and increase public safety are beginning to take shape, Wetzel added.
Wetzel also said that his agency plans to release a new landmark recidivism report within the next few months which will become the benchmark for reporting recidivism and crime reduction resulting from corrections reform, as well as provide citizens the opportunity to measure the results.