I don’t know much about the prison system and honestly, I hope I never have to learn too much about it. I’ll bet most of you feel that way too. The bad news is that if we don’t think about it, we can’t have an opinion on whether our correction system here in PA is working or not.
Tom Corbett thinks that it isn’t. He’s allowing the Pew Center on the States, an organization that is a part of the Pew Charitable Trust organization to help take a look at how our correction system is working and how it isn’t.
Here is a look at what Pew is doing-
I looked at some of the concerns regarding PA’s system and they seem like they are the same issues that are impacting other states. Altogether it looks like 41 states are admitting the same sorts of issues with their corrections systems. PA does seem to spend more on it’s inmates than other states does and so I think Corbett is doing a good thing in trying to get this under control. However, I’m a little worried looking at some of the ideas that Pew has promoted with other states. Like there is an entire funding stream that I wasn’t aware of within the corrections system- a probation fee which is the cost that released prisoners are required to pay if they are on probation. We are talking about fees of up to 30 dollars a day or more! So let’s imagine a parent paying that fee for a child in the prison system. If the parent doesn’t pay in some states their wages are garnished.
I’m not suggesting that the penal system should be free for inmates, but to charge them such amounts to let them out on the streets and to have a plan established that doesn’t close their cases till they pay off their fees seems sort of unreasonable. Like if someone is on probation for 24 months and they don’t pay their fees, their case isn’t closed so that if they get picked up for some other trouble, their original probation fines will be added to their new fines.
We are going to have some people that are just slaves to the justice system. Is that okay?
I’m telling you I don’t know enough about this, but apparently Corbett is interested in changing PA’s policies and perhaps it’s time to at least look at what we already have and what we’d be changing to!