Prisoners in Pennsylvania without any history of violent offenses are eligible for early release – i.e. those most likely locked up for substance abuse or possession. This is humane and long term, is most likely the best investment that Pennsylvania can make for its economy. While we all understand the expense of keeping someone locked up, there is the constant hidden expense of addiction in terms of lost productivity, theft and increased medical costs due to illiteracy and drug abuse. These have a better chance of being treated once an offender is isolated as a drug abuser. Also, prison for a young person can scar them for life and decrease their productivity.
It is not common sense or compassion as much as necessity which drove the state of Pennsylvania to offer early release to these non-violent offenders. Overcrowded prisons helped to prompt the offer of opportunity for offenders to transition back into society sooner through various programs. Participation in addiction treatment, literacy and anger management programs can make arrestees eligible for early release.
It is better to treat addicts before they get caught up in the legal system but if they are already caught up in the system, this is a sensible solution.
“Thanks to new legislation, more prisoners in Pennsylvania without any history of violent offenses are eligible for early release — a policy change seen as a possible answer to the state’s growing problem of prison overcrowding, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Oct. 27.
Prisons in the state are operating over capacity by 8 percent, and the state Corrections Department projects that Pennsylvania’s overall prison populations will reach 57,000 by the end of 2012. Advocates hope the the new law will help clear space in cramped prisons for the most serious offenders.”