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05/22/2024 01:49 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: July 28, 2023 10:14 AM
From: Representative Napoleon J. Nelson and Rep. Natalie Mihalek
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania’s Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act

The vast majority of Pennsylvanians incarcerated or under supervision will return home to their family and community. We must ensure that our criminal justice system is best equipped to reduce recidivism and increase public safety outcomes. Studies consistently show that vocational training and education programs are among the most effective interventions to reduce recidivism and improve public safety outcomes after release from prison. Studies have shown that people who participated in correctional education programs had 43% lower odds of recidivating and had 13% higher chances of getting a job after incarceration than those who did not. For participants in vocational training, the odds of employment were 28% higher than those who did not. Not only do these programs increase safety, but they improve public spending efficiency: every $1 invested in prison education and vocational training programs saves $4 to $5 in the three years post-release alone.    
Pennsylvania has been a leader in developing recidivism reduction prison programming, and yet there is more we can do to ensure these programs and the public safety benefits they provide are maximized. In the near future, we will introduce legislation that builds on Pennsylvania's commitment to vocational training and education in our correctional system as a smart, proven public safety strategy. The legislation would allow people who participate in and complete vocational and educational programs while in prison to earn credits that can accelerate parole consideration. This means that the parole board will have the opportunity to consider people who are proactively participating in their rehabilitation sooner, and determine whether they are prepared to safely return to their communities. Strengthening incentives through earned education credits for people who do participate in and complete these proven programs will allow for a leaner, more targeted corrections system, better safety outcomes, and less crime.               
This legislation would also address barriers to post-release employment. Specifically, for individuals who are trained and ready to work but face waiting periods before licensing eligibility after release because of a criminal record, the credits will count against the waiting time to facilitate their entry into the workforce. This will help to address occupational licensing barriers to allow people with past convictions to obtain employment and provide for their families.

Introduced as HB1678