[email protected]
November 23, 2013
Dear Governor Corbett:
I am concerned about some of our funding priorities in Pennsylvania. In 2010, the state of
Pennsylvania spent 2.1 billion on prisons. This is an average of over $42,000 per prisoner per
year on a population of over 48,500 inmates. In your current 1013 -2014 budget, the
Correction Department got a 75 million dollar increase. At the same time funding per student
for education is lower than in 2011 and is a small fraction of what we spend on prisons. Many
districts are seriously underfunded and local funding is impacted by the income levels of the
local districts. This results in lower income communities that have a larger percentage of
children with special needs having more and more students in a classroom and fewer resources
to support them.
In their document “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on
Crime and Criminal Justice” the USA Catholic Bishops speak of the need for non prison
alternatives. They state that “Current approaches to crime, victims, and violence often fall
short of the values of our faith. We should resist policies that simply call for more prisons,
harsher sentences, and increased reliance on the death penalty. Rather, we should promote
policies that put more resources into restoration, education, and substance-abuse treatment
programs. We must advocate on behalf of those most vulnerable to crime (the young and the
elderly), ensure community safety, and attack the leading contributors to crime, which include
the breakdown of family life, poverty, the proliferation of handguns, drug and alcohol
addiction, and the pervasive culture of violence. We should also encourage programs of
restorative justice that focus on community healing and personal accountability.”
We support this direction and encourage you to initiate policies in the state that will reduce the
prison population and free up resources for education, health care, food programs and other
priorities. Further we ask that you consider these options as you prepare your next budget. If
the inmate population were over time to be halved by expanding non prison alternatives for
non violent offenders, as much as $1.05 billion could be available.
Thank you for your attention to this.