MAYOR NUTTER is set to announce
today how he plans to spend a big fat check from the Obama administration: a $13.5 million criminal-justice grant that comes as part of the federal recovery money. When this grant was announced in March, we worried that Nutter would be tempted to throw it all toward police overtime. Those fears don't appear to be founded; we hear that a good part of the money will be focused on parole and probation, and on ex-offender employment.
This represents smart policy. Parole and probation must be seen as a more important factor in reducing crime. Sadly, we have seen too many recent examples of what happens when we don't make effective parole a priority; the four lives lost in Feltonville last week were at the hands of a parole absconder. And a new auditor general report has found big problems with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. One of those problems: workload. Parole officers in the state handle on average 75 parolees. In the state prison system, there is one corrections officer for every five prisoners. This disparity makes no sense. It's high time we seriously reviewed our priorities so that those released from prison have more options than returning to a life of crime. *