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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 1, 2018 05:19 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Cost-Benefit Analysis on Sentencing Guidelines
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to provide more information on types of sentences when proposing changes to sentencing guidelines.

It is well documented that the United States incarcerates far more people than any other nation in the world. As policy makers, we must balance the need to sentence violent criminals to prison with the need to provide rehabilitation for other offenders. While we are routinely provided with detailed information on the financial impact of proposed legislation, I believe that on matters of criminal justice, we need to know the cost beyond dollars and cents. We need to know the human cost. We need to consider the benefits and success rates for offenders, as well as whether a prison will have enough beds or a program enough counselors.

That’s why my legislation would require the Commission on Sentencing to provide a cost-benefit analysis when it proposes changes to the state’s sentencing guidelines. This analysis would show the public and lawmakers – who have the ability to veto changes – the average cost of each type of sentence and recidivism rates for each. Additionally, my bill would make this cost-benefit analysis available to judges during sentencing so they can consider both the price tag and the success of each type of sentence for which an offender may be eligible, including county or state prison, treatment programs or community service. I believe we have a responsibility to taxpayers, victims and offenders alike to consider sentences that improve overall outcomes while acting as good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Please join me in sponsoring legislation to provide more information and greater transparency in criminal sentencing guidelines so lawmakers and taxpayers can make informed decisions.

Introduced as HB2702