Today, the Pennsylvania Senate passed State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s (R, Montgomery, Bucks) SB 522 and SB 523 to consolidate the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole. The combined agency will be known as the Department of Corrections.
The consolidation is expected to result in cost savings and increased efficiencies in the operation of our state prisons and parole services.
The Senate Appropriations Committee estimates an annual cost saving of over $32.3 million by the fifth year.
There is already significant overlap in the operation of the two agencies. Currently, community corrections centers are operated and staffed by the Department of Corrections, but the residents of the centers are entirely parolees. The Board of Probation and Parole assigns institutional parole agents to work inside state prisons. The Office of Victim Advocate is staffed and funded by both agencies. Given the overlap, it makes sense to consolidate their resources while continuing to allow the Parole Board to make independent decisions regarding parole.
“I introduced this legislation to accomplish two important goals—save precious tax dollars, and continue to improve our corrections system that focusses on the rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders,” said Senator Greenleaf. “I believe the newly consolidated department will be better equipped to focus on the mission of reducing recidivism and provide a broader range of tools to supervise parolees and guide them towards a law abiding lifestyle.”
SB 522 and SB 523 may now be considered by the House of Representatives.
Aaron Zappia 215-657-7700