Urges State Leaders to Continue Their Bipartisan Efforts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2012
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, DC -- FAMM President Julie Stewart today praised Pennsylvania leaders for working together to enact meaningful prison reform legislation. Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation (SB100) today.
The bill seeks to increase public safety and reform the criminal justice system by squeezing savings from the state’s corrections budget and reinvesting part of that money into proven public safety improvements, including better law enforcement, as well as more effective probation and parole systems. The bill also makes more nonviolent offenders eligible for alternative sentencing programs, including county intermediate punishment and motivational boot camps, and increases the use of treatment programs for drug- and alcohol-addicted offenders.
Ms. Stewart made the following statement after the bill signing:
Pennsylvania lawmakers deserve credit for finding a way to make the public safer while spending less money. We want to thank Senator Stewart Greenleaf in particular for his tireless efforts to improve his state’s criminal justice system.
Now, we urge lawmakers to get to work on round two: mandatory minimum reform. Here’s why. Pennsylvania’s prison population has grown by 500 percent since 1980 and yet the recidivism rate is still too high. The swollen prisons are due, at least in part, to Pennsylvania’s tough sentencing guidelines and its mandatory minimum sentences, particularly for drug offenses. Just a few years ago, the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission completed a comprehensive study of these approaches and concluded that, “neither length of sentence nor the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence alone was related to recidivism.”
Mandatory minimums don’t work. They force judges to sentence non-violent offenders to excessive prison terms that do nothing to rehabilitate offenders or enhance public safety. The result is an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars. I hope the impressive, bipartisan group that supported SB 100 will turn their attention to another Senator Greenleaf proposal: a sentencing safety valve (SB 1205). SB 1205 would enable courts to waive a mandatory minimum in a limited number of cases involving low-level, nonviolent offenders.
FAMM is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.