January 11, 2019 SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Governor Wolf Announces Record Drop in Prison Inmate Population Press Release, Prison Reform Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today the largest reduction of inmates in the Pennsylvania state prison system since record keeping began.In 2018, the total DOC inmate population dropped from 48,438 to 47,370, a decrease of 1,068 inmates or 2.2 percent over 2017. The inmate population has declined six of the past seven years.“The 2018 calendar year reduction represents the single largest year-over-year decrease of inmate population on record,” Gov. Wolf said. “The historic decline demonstrates that common-sense criminal justice reforms work and bolsters the case for expanding reforms while ensuring the safety of all citizens.”“Only a decade ago, Pennsylvania was shipping inmates to other states because of overcrowding,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “The work of the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole along with the reforms under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative made the seemingly impossible possible: Reducing the prison population, while at the same time crime rates are among the lowest in a generation.”A major contributor to the decline was a significant decrease in prison admissions during 2018. New court commitments dropped by 617 inmates from 2017 to 2018 (a 7 percent decrease), while parole violator admissions dropped by 575 from 2017 to 2018 (a 6 percent decrease).“It is difficult to ascertain why court commitments dropped during 2018, but it may be due to continued crime drops across Pennsylvania or to other efforts by the counties to divert appropriate cases from state sentences,” Wetzel said “The drop in parole violator admissions is likely due to improved efforts, under the DOC/Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole consolidation, to divert technical parole violators from lengthy returns to state prison.”Amid the record decline in prison population, Pennsylvania continues its leadership role in common-sense criminal justice reform. Gov. Wolf signed the “Clean Slate” bill in June 2018, with some provisions in effect beginning Dec. 26, 2018. The first of its kind in the nation, Clean Slate helps those who have committed low-level offenses and have paid their penalty get back on the path to a blemish-free record, removing potential roadblocks to jobs, housing, health care, and education.“The introduction of Clean Slate, a model for the nation, is one more step forward in creating effective, bipartisan criminal justice reforms that do not compromise on public safety,” Gov. Wolf said. “I have long expressed my support for these reforms and will continue to push to ensure we are doing the right thing when it comes to fixing Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.”The criminal justice reforms Gov. Wolf is calling for include:Passage and implementation of JRI 2 to address the high cost of incarceration in the state, to strengthen support for county probation programs, and to fix inadequate sentencing guidelines.Reforming the pre-trial system to make certain that those accused of a crime have access to competent legal counsel and a reasonable bail system.Reforming the post-trial criminal justice system to ensure work towards rehabilitation of individuals and preparation to reenter society, rather than creating further risks for recidivism.Focusing on probation reform to ensure the right individuals have the right level of supervision and technical probation violations do not mean an immediate return to incarceration. This works hand-in-hand with first ensuring sentences are commensurate with the severity of crimes committed.
The Guardian 1 June 2018Family First Comment: “Opposition to assisted suicide – also called assisted dying – is characterised as being the preserve of the religious, stuffy and outdated, like religious opposition to gay marriage and abortion. In reality, some of the loudest voices opposing it are those of people with disabilities – because we have the most to fear.”www.Protect.org.nzI can see no safeguards to prevent people being pressured into ending their lives. What we need is more support to live.Opposition to assisted suicide – also called assisted dying – is characterised as being the preserve of the religious, stuffy and outdated, like religious opposition to gay marriage and abortion. In reality, some of the loudest voices opposing it are those of people with disabilities – because we have the most to fear. A poll done by Scope (a disability charity) showed that the majority of disabled people (64%) were concerned about moves to legalise assisted suicide.Arguments around the legality of suicide and the right to refuse treatment are often conflated with assisted suicide. Suicide is legal, and there is already a right to refuse treatment. People with mental capacity can also create an advance directive to ensure their wish to refuse treatment is respected in future. This leaves people often able to die on their own terms. What assisted dying advocates are requesting is to create a system in which it is legally and morally permissible for people to engage in a deliberate action designed to end someone else’s life.There are two main models for assisted suicide legislation: the American (Oregon), and the European (Belgium and the Netherlands). The laws in Oregon restrict assisted suicide to those who are terminally ill, with less than six months to live. The number of people dying this way has increased from 15 in 1998 to 143 in 2017. There is no obligation to establish whether the petitioner has a treatable mental health problem underlying their desire to die. Nor is there one to ensure that they are not under pressure from another person. It is difficult to even establish life expectancy. Jane Campbell – the former commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – has spoken about fluctuations in her life expectancy and when it affects eligibility for assisted suicide, the stakes would be high.Some 5% of people in Oregon dying by assisted suicide cited financial pressures as a cause. Meanwhile, the number citing being a “burden on family/friends/caregivers” increased from 13% in 1998 to 55% in 2017. This tallies with Scope’s research that the majority of people with disabilities are concerned that legalising assisted suicide might lead to disabled people choosing it in order not to be a burden on others.Advocates for assisted suicide argue for the existence of an advance directive so people, with dementia for example, could decide to have their life ended were they to lose mental capacity. In the Netherlands, a doctor was cleared after having the family of a woman with dementia hold her down so he could give her the lethal injection. Her refusal of euthanasia in the present day was weighed against her historical desires, and she died.Society’s priority should be to assist us to live, not to die. Provide a free social care system funded by progressive taxation that allows us to be productive, active community members. Increase NHS funding. Cut waiting lists – there are currently 4 million people awaiting treatment. Fund wheelchairs and assistive technology. Root out the disableism that leads two-thirds of people with disabilities to think that we’re seen as a burden on society. Only then can you come back to me and tell me that assisted suicide is no risk to disabled people.I can envisage no safeguards that would prevent people being pressured into ending their lives, by interpersonal, financial or social means. All I see is a system which divides lives, offering suicide prevention to some, and euthanasia to others. When I am low and feel I cannot go on with life as a disabled adult, those around me support me, affirm that my life has meaning, and help me continue to survive. Yes, my suffering is sometimes unbearable, but the faith my loved ones have in me makes me able to bear it. Don’t take that away, by legitimising assisted suicide as the right, and gracious choice.READ MORE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/01/disabled-people-assisted-dying-safeguards-pressureKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.