Rob McCord survey responses

Do you support implementing a statewide moratorium on prison construction? Yes
Do you believe Pennsylvania's prisons should be privatized? No
   
What specific policy proposals would you enact regarding prison expansion and privatization? While I am not an opponent of privatization, I have yet to see a proposal to outsource any function of our corrections system that merits consideration. Recently, Governor Corbett made it clear that he believes that the private sector can outperform the work of dedicated public servants when he announced a proposal to outsource prison health care services. As many have noted, this is a dangerous proposition that puts community safety at risk, as well as the efficacy of existing health treatment and rehabilitation programs. Prison privatization efforts have failed in other states and, here in Pennsylvania, the governor’s plan has even been met with opposition by legislative members of his own party in both chambers.

Additionally, I think we can see the failings of mismanaged privatization efforts by looking at the poor outcomes attained by privately operated community correctional facilities. As the 2013 report on recidivism found, inmates paroled to community corrections facilities often have a greater recidivism rate than offenders released to state-run community correction centers or directly to the street.
Will you work to repeal mandatory minimum sentences? Yes
Do you support implementing a moratorium on the death penalty? While the death penalty may be just for a narrow range of heinous crimes, we must address huge and appropriate concerns about its disproportional application to cases involving minorities and the poor. For example, African Americans represent 41% of the inmates on death row, but constitute less than 12% of our total population. The reality is Pennsylvania essentially has a de facto moratorium as no one on death row has been executed since 1999, and of the three that were executed between that year and 1974 when the death penalty was reinstituted in the commonwealth, only three murderers have been put to death – all because they voluntarily waived their appeals and asked that their sentence be carried out.
Do you support legislation that would allow parole eligibility for people serving life sentences? Given the size of Pennsylvania’s incarcerated population that is serving a life sentence (roughly 10%) and the associated cost, I am open to a conversation about how we can effectively parole nonviolent offenders after being properly treated and/or educated, which will reduce the likelihood they will recidivate.
Do you support legislation that would allow parole eligibility for elderly prisoners? From a budgetary standpoint, it costs about $2,500 per year to monitor a parolee, but $35,000 annually to incarcerate an individual. This incarceration cost is an average, and we know older inmates tend to require more health-related services, making them more expensive to house in our prisons.  This is a conversation worth having.
Would you end the practice of automatically trying young people under 18 as adults? Yes
What specific efforts would you make to reform Pennsylvania's sentencing laws? We need to take a hard look at sentencing reform across the board. That includes the greater use of alternative sentences, allowing “lifers” who were convicted as juveniles to be eligible for parole; and revisiting mandatory minimums, particularly for low-level drug-related offenses. Ultimately, I believe we need to return sentencing discretion to judges who can determine appropriate sentences based on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of each case.
Do you support ending PA's role in the War on Drugs? “War” is a phrase that is overused in the context of dealing with persistent social ills such as drug abuse and trafficking. My underlying philosophy is that we need to change the way we approach the issue of drugs in our community. It is not purely a criminal justice issue; it is a public health issue. We dedicate too many resources to prosecuting and incarcerating those who have been arrested or convicted of drug-related offenses, particularly low-level offenses, and too few dollars on treatment and prevention. That is where we should be focusing our state program funding, because treatment is a far more effective and cheaper use of public dollars.
Do you support policies that treat drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal one? Yes
Do you support the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana? My view on decriminalization is more complex than just “support” or “oppose.” While my inclination is to support decriminalization, I first want to study this issue further and the effects of similar recent movements in other states. Given that my parents were both academics, I am constantly driven by the quest for knowledge and information. The move to make marijuana legal in other states is a relatively new phenomenon. I hope to learn more from their experience.   I believe we must carefully evaluate the data, assess the risks and potential for revenues, and examine the possible social externalities before arriving at any decision. My instinct is that data will show improved policy around marijuana will save money on corrections, increase tax revenues, create jobs, and increase freedom.
Do you support ending mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses? Yes
Do you support policy changes so that people are not incarcerated for technical parole violations, such as missing an appointment or failing to inform a parole office of a change of address? Yes
Do you support the reinstatement of the pre-release program?  
Do you have plans to reform the commutation process in Pennsylvania Given Pennsylvania’s overcrowded prison population, I think every option should be on the table for consideration. While I do not object to amending the constitution to return to allowing for a majority vote, if elected, I am inclined only to consider granting commutations in limited circumstances, such as the frail and elderly who no longer pose a threat to society, “lifers” who were sentenced as juveniles, and those who were not individually responsible for a capital offense, but were sentenced to life because of their tangential involvement.   Of the 4,000 – 5,000 people serving life sentences in Pennsylvania’s prisons, 14% of these inmates are over the age of 60 and about 17% have served 30 years or more. As these inmates continue to age, they will cost taxpayers considerable amounts, so it’s prudent to consider whether they still would no longer pose a risk to society.
Do you support the return of all citizenship privileges upon a person’s release from incarceration? I support allowing those who have served their time to voice their opinion through the electoral process, but I do not support allowing those convicted of violent acts or felonies the right to own or possess a firearm.
Do you support the allocation of funding for preventative programming to help decrease incarceration rates? Yes
What steps would you take to reform the commutations and parole process, decrease recidivism, and help people who are coming home from prison? As noted above, I am open to reforming the commutations process and I believe the parole process can be far more efficient in terms of moving inmates out of correctional facilities once parole has been granted by improving administrative procedures and ending some of the barriers the state has established (such as the Act 85 fee). In the case of reducing recidivism and helping people upon release from committing another crime, I want to ensure we have a system where inmates who have been paroled or who have “maxed out” their sentences have adequate supervision (in the case of parole), a dependable support network with treatment programs when necessary, employment, and stable housing. These factors are incredibly important for former inmates to integrate themselves successfully back into a community and everyday life.
Would you end the practice of long-term solitary confinement? Yes
Do you plan to take steps to decrease the number of immigrants who are separated from their families, detained, and deported in Pennsylvania? I support limiting the circumstances in which state and local law enforcement will honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These requests can consume local resources and jeopardize relations between police forces and a community. As governor, I will institute common sense approaches to working with our immigrant populations that support our laws and our law enforcement professionals.
Do you have any additional policy proposals to significantly decrease the prison population in Pennsylvania?  
What policy changes would you support relating to Pennsylvania's drug policies? As stated earlier, a McCord administration would shift the focus on drugs from being a criminal justice issue to being one primarily of public health. I would reserve the strictest of penalties for the large-scale drug traffickers and those who peddle these dangerous substances while also engaging in violent acts, but I would consider more cost-effective treatment and prevention policies for those who possess small amounts of drugs or deal small quantities of controlled substances simply to feed their own addiction.