As Pennsylvania’s inmate ranks drop, parole population grows

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – State officials say a 2012 Pennsylvania law contributing to shrinking state inmate ranks is also fueling a growing parolee population.

Bret Bucklen, the Department of Corrections’ director of planning, research and statistics, says courts are sentencing fewer defendants to prison. But he says the inmate population’s also shrinking because of the law’s limits on prison stays for parole violators.

Since 2012, the state prison population has dropped by 2,400 to just over 49,000. That’s spurring a plan to close two state prisons. Over that same period, parolee ranks grew by more than 6,000 to nearly 32,000, as parole violators spent less time in prison.

Parole officials say they’re getting better results with parolees. But Jason Bloom of the state corrections officers union says the state is gambling with public safety.

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