Share This Page

42Wolf: Pennsylvania prison population declined by 842 in 2015

| Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, 3:15 p.m.

The Wolf administration said Tuesday that Pennsylvania's prison population decreased by 842 inmates last year, continuing a decline stemming from criminal justice reforms enacted in 2012, but a union leader said the numbers mask other problems.

At a news conference at the Harrisburg Community Corrections Center, Gov. Tom Wolf and Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said the reforms are reducing the number of offenders in prison and diverting parole violators to less-expensive local centers known as halfway houses. Money saved can be used to educate offenders and provide treatment for drug addiction or mental health problems, they said.

The administration billed last year's decline as the biggest one-year decrease in four decades, but the prison population was soaring throughout most of that period. The 2015 population, including prison inmates and offenders held in alternative settings, was 49,914 — the smallest since 2009, the department said.

The decreasing population and associated costs have put Pennsylvania in the national spotlight on prison reform issues.

Roy Pinto, president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, said the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Many parole violators at local corrections centers who should have been returned to prison for infractions are instead being kept at the centers until they're released to make the program look better, Pinto said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.