Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is attempting to put a plan into motion that would take away violent offenders’ ability to be paroled. Rather than sentencing pursuant to Pennsylvania’s indeterminate sentencing scheme in criminal court (that is, a maximum and minimum sentence, with the maximum at least double the minimum), Governor Rendell wants judges to sentence offenders to a definite number of years. Governor Rendell claims that violent offenders need to have definitive sentences is because they “. . . learn to game the system,” meaning they act reformed in order to fool the PA Parole Board to gain an earlier release from incarceration.

Critics’ primary reason against this legislation is their belief that because judges will have to give a definitive punishment that the offender’s sentence will be more towards the maximum sentence rather than the minimum sentence and this will, in turn, create even greater prison overcrowding.

Concerning the question of overcrowding in Pennsylvania prisons, the legislative movement towards rehabilitation of non-violent offenders lead by State Senator Stewart Greenleaf could turn the issue of overcrowded prisons on its head (70 percent of all Pennsylvania prison inmates are nonviolent offenders).

Click here to read more about Governor Rendell’s plan for violent offenders.