As Gov. Tom Corbett made a spectacle last week of his own priorities for next year's budget, he seemed increasingly desperate to make good on unfulfilled promises.
The same could be said of his efforts at prison reform. For the fourth year in a row, Corbett pushed through a budget that significantly increases funding for Pennsylvania's prison system, sending an additional $78 million to the Department of Corrections.
It is heartening to see that the U.S. Supreme Court and counties around Pennsylvania are finally recognizing that mandatory minimums are unconstitutional and ineffective ("Pa. mandatory minimums seen in flux," July 8). Mandatory minimums do not reduce crime or recidivism, they are overly punitive, and they do not take into consideration individual circumstances. Such sentences add thousands of people to an already out-of-control prison system at a time when the state cannot afford to build more prisons.
By Bret Grote, Emily Abendroth and Robert Saleem Holbrook
June 19, 2014
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2014-2015 budget will give the Department of Corrections a $78 million increase over current spending.
If Corbett's budget is approved, for the first time in history, the Commonwealth will spend more than $2 billion on prisons. And yet, less than $40 million, or about 2 percent, of the agency's budget will go to "Inmate Education and Training".
By Alex Vuocolo | Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Pennsylvania’s prison population has risen rapidly for decades, but it wasn’t until a plan was released in 2011 to build three new prisons, and expand nine others, that Decarcerate PA decided something had to be done.
Advocates: DOC Lied to Justify New Prisons, Legislators Refuse to Take Action
For Immediate Release: February 12th, 2014
Harrisburg, PA – At 1PM today, members of Decarcerate PA and their allies are gathering at the State Capitol for a “People’s Hearing on Prison Expansion.” The protest coincides with the House Appropriations Hearing for the Department of Corrections, who, according to Corbett’s budget proposal, will receive an additional $78 million in the 2014-2015 budget.
Brad Bumsted's news story “State Corrections boss Wetzel wants fewer prisoners” provides excellent examples of Secretary John Wetzel's prison-reform rhetoric, but it leaves out one crucial fact — rather than shrinking the prison system, the Department of Corrections is spending $400 million to build two new prisons that will house 4,100 people.