Pennsylvania prisons are full

Here is the feel good story of the year: Pennsylvania is about to officially run out of prison space. To deal with the incarceration crisis, state officials are taking the drastic step of re-locating about 2,000 offenders to out-of-state facilities. The move will happen early next year.

According to a story from NBC 10, the state is already building a bunch of new prisons. However, that can't be the long-term solution to the problem for financial reasons.

Prison construction is the most expensive option for taxpayers. The four prisons now on the drawing board -- two on the grounds of Graterford prison in Montgomery County, one at Rockview prison in Centre County and one in Fayette County -- are expected to make available 8,000 beds by 2013 at a cost of about $800 million.

Officials said nonviolent offenders, mostly people convicted of property and drug crimes, account for more than half of the admissions surge. He and other speakers advocated changes to divert more of those people into community programs and reduce the number of parolees returned to prison for minor “technical” violations.

Prisons are expensive, so the state should be looking for alternative ways to handle the rising inmate population. However, the taxpayers are stil going to be footing the bill to send offenders to other states. Wouldn't it make more sense to also examine our sentencing laws and figure out if there are alternatives to incarcerating non-violent offenders?

What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

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