In Pa., prison-policy trend moves toward fewer inmates, more treatment

“For decades, Pennsylvania has taken a strict lock-them-up approach to crime and punishment: Put offenders behind bars for as long as possible, and keep building more prisons to hold them.

The result is a state prison population of 51,757 – up 40 percent in the last dozen years – a corrections budget of $1.86 billion, and 26 penitentiaries that, as of June, were beyond capacity by 4,000 inmates.

But even as construction proceeds on a $315 million state correctional complex at Graterford in Montgomery County, the public-policy pendulum appears to be swinging in a new direction, toward programs that would get nonviolent inmates out of prison and into rehabilitation- and community-based facilities.”

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