The new Justice Reinvestment Initiative panel will be tasked with helping to reduce the crime rate, decrease recidivism and lower corrections costs. Corrections Secretary John Wetzel says the goals are all connected. “We know with better outcomes we have less people coming back. With less people coming back, that means they’re not screwing up when they’re out. We’ll continue to focus on improving public safety by delivering better outcomes, and – by the way – we’re going to save money doing that.”
Secretary Wetzel will lead the new task force alongside Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chair Mark Zimmer.
The group convened for the first time at the Governor’s Residence this week. “Education, corrections and welfare take up about 95% of the budget pie,” Governor Tom Corbett told them. Governor Corbett will deliver his second budget address on February 7th.
Between 2000 and 2010, Pennsylvania’s prison population grew by 40% to more than 51,000 inmates. Over that same time period, Department of Corrections spending increased by 76% to $1.9-billion.