A major portion of the prison reform recommendations from Gov. Tom Corbett’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group passed the House on Tuesday with no dissenting votes.
The plan seeks to divert non-violent, addicted offenders from state prison by better treating their addiction issues at the local level.
The bill passed Tuesday – Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R- Montgomery, – now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.
Among the provisions in the bill, is a measure that would allow illegal immigrants convicted of nonviolent offenses to be
paroled straight to immigration authorities for deportation. Secretary
of Corrections John Wetzel said that could save $1.5 million a year.
The bill also provides for evidence-based practices in county probation
departments in line with a program that has proven very successful in
Non-violent alcohol- and drug-addicted probationers in Hawaii are
required to submit to random testing; those who fail receive swift and
certain punishment, usually a couple of days in the county jail.
The swift and certain punishment has proven more effective in
changing behavior than the current system which can delay punishment for
a probation violation for weeks or even months.
Other provisions in the bill would repeal everything currently in the
law pertaining to pre-release of state inmates, the policy of putting
well-behaved prisoners into halfway houses in advance of their parole.
Such facilities would henceforth be for parolees only.
Only half the governor’s proposed reform was added to SB100; the other
half, which deals with returning a portion of the savings to the
counties for enhanced law enforcement, specialty courts and
evidence-based probation will come later.
Sources in the House say they expect the Senate to insert those measures into a bill being considered there, and the hope is it will also pass before the end of the current session.
The overall estimated savings of the reforms is projected to top $250 million over five years. Most of that would be “reinvested” back into local communities for improved law enforcement and evidence-based treatment.