A small group of protesters rallied at the state capitol Thursday for a loosening of the legal requirements for commutation of a life sentence.
The advocates argued that the 1997 amendment to the state constitution requiring a unanimous recommendation from the state's Board of Pardons as a threshold for clemency has effectively ended mercy for lifers — who by definition have been convicted of murder and can't qualify for regular parole — here.
About two dozen protesters rallied outside a police substation before marching through Allentown this afternoon to send authorities and residents the message they won't let the city become "another Ferguson."
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.