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How To Deal With Overcrowding At The Tompkins County Jail

The Tompkins County Jail is overcrowded. The firm doing a study on how to bring the numbers down is presenting their findings Thursday evening. For a long time, the state granted the jail a waiver to go overcapacity, but last year told them to find a long term solution. So, the legislature hired a Rochester consulting company – the Center for Governmental Research – to analyze the programs inside and outside the jail – programs like substance abuse treatment, house arrest bracelets, and drug courts. The major finding of the study: don’t add more beds to the jail, instead, expand the programs. Overall, Paula Ioanide, Assistant Professor at Ithaca College and member of the criminal justice reform group, Decarcerate Tompkins, appreciated how comprehensive the study is.

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Get Out Of Jail Free

NEW YORK (BBC) – On any given day there are around half a million people detained in American jails without being convicted of a crime. One big reason for this is America’s unique system of cash bail.  When bail is set, those who can afford it go free to await their trial. Those who cannot – often the poor, minorities, the mentally ill – either take their chances with commercial bail-bondsmen, or go to jail. Critics say it is a broken system that lets potentially dangerous people go because they have the cash, and detains other who are harmless just because they are poor. James Fletcher visits New York to hear the stories of those caught up in the machinery of American justice.

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PA Launches Website For (Still-Tenuous) Corrections Consolidation Plan

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — The Wolf administration has launched a new website touting its plan to consolidate the state Department of Corrections with the Board of Probation and Parole. But the proposal–which is a major part of the governor’s budget–is far from a sure thing.  The website primarily functions as a place to pitch the consolidation to voters. Cost savings is a big incentive. It’s an extremely tight budget year, and lumping the board and agency together could save up to $125 million or so over five years. The administration maintains the consolidation will also make the corrections system more efficient, and hopefully lead to better policies that lower recidivism.

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Obstacles Ahead For Bills That Merge PA Prisons With Parole Board

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Legislation to combine the state Department of Corrections with the Board of Probations and Parole has begun moving through the Senate. The consolidation is part of Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to cut costs in his proposed budget in the face of a $3 billion structural deficit.  It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with only a few dissenting votes, but similar bills generally haven’t done well in the House. The merger has been included in Wolf’s last two budgets as a cost-cutting measure, and has gotten hung up over concerns it would give prison officials too much power over parole decisions. House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin confirmed there are still concerns, though he says nothing’s off the table. “I know law enforcement has had issues with merging the two, and so has our judiciary committee,” he said.

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NY Prison Education Programs Team Up To Streamline College Degrees

The education programs that serve New York’s prison population are streamlining the path to a college degree. Private organizations offer college classes in 19-state facilities. Now several of the groups have formed a consortium to help students make it to graduation day. In the past, transfer to a new prison often meant the end of an education for people working on their degrees. Many facilities don’t offer college programs. And even if they do, there are uncertainties: Will credits transfer?