Wolf: Pennsylvania prison population declined by 842 in 2015

Written by The Associated Press | Jan 19, 2016 4:37 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The Wolf administration says Pennsylvania's prison population decreased by 842 inmates last year, the biggest one-year decline in 40 years.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday the decrease is driven by a 2012 law that is reducing the number of offenders sent to prison and diverting parole violators to less-expensive halfway houses, called community corrections center.

At a center in Harrisburg, the governor and Corrections Secretary John Wetzel say the new policies are saving money that can be used to educate offenders and provide treatment for drug addiction or mental health problems.

State data show parole agent caseloads and parolee numbers have steadily risen.

But Roy Pinto, president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, says many parole violators at the corrections centers who should have been returned to prison for infractions are instead being kept at the centers until they're released to make the program look better.

Pinto says the changes have resulted in crowding at the community centers and mandatory overtime for corrections officers.

This story has been updated with comments from Mr. Pinto.

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