Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the number of inmates in the Pennsylvania state prison system dropped for the fourth consecutive calendar year, according to new statistics released by the Department of Corrections, reported the Clearfield Progress.
In 2017, the total DOC inmate population dropped from 49,301 to 48,438, a decrease of 863 inmates or 1.8 percent over 2016.
“The 2017 calendar year reduction represents the single largest year-over-year decrease of inmate population on record,” Wolf said. “I am pleased that our efforts and initiatives are making a measurable difference in improving our prison population numbers, while reducing crime, supporting those reentering our communities, and lowering costs.”
After decades of growth that more than doubled the number of prisons in Pennsylvania, the inmate population has declined by 6.4 percent, or 3,319 inmates, since June 2012, allowing for the 2017 closure of SCI Pittsburgh and accompanying significant cost savings.
“This latest reduction in the inmate population, combined with the crime rate decline, indicates that a broad range of bi-partisan criminal justice initiatives being undertaken across Pennsylvania are working for our citizens,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “We believe further reductions in the inmate population, lower agency costs and decreases in the crime rate, are possible moving forward as part of the consolidation with the Board of Probation and Parole and the second round of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.”
Wetzel said legislation proposed under the initiative would also expand victims’ rights to require police officers to provide victim services information at the scene of a crime, require prosecutors to notify the Victim Advocate on behalf of personal injury crime victims and increase compensation for crime victims.
In the decade before the first Justice Reinvestment Initiative began in 2012, the DOC population was increasing by an average of 1,262 inmates per year. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is aimed at reducing the prison population through criminal justice reform and directing the savings to help counties enhance public safety which also further sustains prison population reductions.
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