Letter to the editor: Pa. parole process must be reviewed
The Pennsylvania General Assembly must hold hearings to determine the effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s parole system after a recent Associated Press report found six homicides allegedly committed by five Pennsylvania parolees in two months. The report also found 93 murders were committed last year by parolees, according to the Department of Corrections’ own numbers.
Pennsylvania statistics show that state prisons have reduced their population by 2,000 inmates since June 2018. The PSCOA doesn’t take issue with reducing Pennsylvania’s prison population responsibly, but we must be sure that violent offenders aren’t being released. The commonwealth must review its policies and be transparent on how many parolees have committed crimes.
In one case, a parolee accused of a boy’s murder served a prison sentence for homicide. Though he had not committed any behavioral infractions for about five years, he did stab a fellow inmate in the neck with a pencil and committed more than 27 incidents of misconduct during his prison time. Despite this, he was released when he reached the minimum of his 20- to 40-year sentence.
Separately, we understand inmates are being coached on what to say in their parole hearings, and parole officers are being told not to bring parole violators back to jail for violations. Serious consideration must be given to slowing down the parole process until a thorough and thoughtful review can be completed. As we have seen, lives depend on it.
The writer is president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (pscoa.org).