HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today praised the Pennsylvania Senate for unanimously passing a series of criminal justice reform initiatives designed to save taxpayers’ money while taking specific steps to ensure a fairer, more consistent criminal justice system for all.
The reform plan, known as JRI 2, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, was an important policy goal led by Attorney General Shapiro when he chaired the effort as part of Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group over an 18-month period in 2016 and 2017. The JRI work arose out of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which Attorney General Shapiro previously chaired as well.
“The policies in JRI 2 will improve public safety, enable better outcomes, provide budget relief, and make Pennsylvania spend more effectively and efficiently on criminal justice,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “As a leader of the JRI Working Group, my goal was always to maximize resources and protect citizens from crime. These policies can save the Commonwealth about $100 million over the next five years, and will help us be both tough and smart on crime. I strongly commend the Senate and Senator Greenleaf for their passage today of this important criminal justice system reform initiative.”
The JRI2 bills approved today by the Senate provide for the release of short-sentence offenders once a minimum sentence is served, providing there was no violent crime, sexual offense, gun or high-volume drug dealing offense involved. The bills make it easier to access substance use disorder treatment for incarcerated persons. They reinvest savings generated by the bills to approve and finance best practices in probation reforms statewide. And they improve the flow of information to crime victims by prosecutors and police and improve victim compensation for losses incurred during the crime.
The Justice Reinvestment Working Group sought input from district attorneys, judges, public defenders, law enforcement officials, probation and parole officers, victims and their advocates and local officials to help inform their analysis of the state’s criminal justice system.
The justice reinvestment process launched in February 2016 after leaders from all three branches of government requested assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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