RIGHT TO REDEMPTION
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Pennsylvania's fiscal situation is dire, says Dan White senior economist at Moody's Analytics. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest funded pension systems in the country and one of the highest structural deficits. Worse, the long term forces at work behind each of those concerns are going nowhere.
Pennsylvania long term out look event, and the states long term demographic picture is startling. Already, Penna has a substantial deficiency of young people in its work force, with a share of 25-44 year olds well below the national average, and even well below the average for aging Northeast.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's 55 and over, who are set to begin retiring in great numbers over the next decade, make up roughly 25% of the state's workforce. The census bureau expects those trends to continue with the average age in Penna forecast to be more than 3 years higher than the U.S. average. Not exactly what the doctor ordered for a state already struggling to keep pace with an under funded public pension system and an aging industrial base.
What the state needs is something bold and brilliant to jolt us out of this mess. What is proposed should serve as a starting point for a thoughtful and measure approach on how to fund the State budget.
To move the process along, we offer up some meaningful ideas. By doing so, policy makers can give the state back a little bit of dignity by providing the leadership that is consistent with the evolving standards of decency of a maturing society.
For one, stop with the mass incarceration. For too many years, state law makers and prosecutors have done more than their share of aiding to fiscal woes. Getting tough on crime did not receive the desired effects of which I am still not sure of any forethought gone into. As a result, the Prison industrial complex in Pennsylvania has ballooned to its state of concern today.
Most crimes were relabeled as violent in addition violent crimes got more violent responses in sentencing structure, in their responses, to a point that Corrections permanent population continues to grow at a rate of 4% every three years. With longer sentences and no outlet for those no longer a risk to society continue to sit in prison and cost the state on average $65,000.00 a year to keep.
Pennsylvania needs a genuine compromise in the budget priorities. Number one, investing in our children's education early on that continues on to higher educational opportunities. Secondly, shifting funds within Corrections from unnecessary security measures to community corrections helping to re-integrate more prisoners that have demonstrated over time a willingness to approach life on a more dedicated and productive mindset.
It's true, most prisoners that have a longtime in prison would keep a priority on and respect for an opportunity to live freely under appropriate supervision such as electronic monitoring or house arrest that is community based.
Just considering for a moment if 7140 elderly prisoners that are currently in Corrections are costing the state $484,000,000.00 million a year, it then was determined by appropriate Corrections management tools, were to be considered as appropriate to be placed under community electronic monitoring or house arrest supervision. The cost savings would be instant to the amount of saving $464,000,000.00 in millions. The cost instead would be fraction of/or, $20,848,800.00 million a year to monitor. How does that not make penny wise sense?
Having a viable review process would help to save millions that could otherwise be spent elsewhere. Early childhood education is our future and we should prioritize that as our future. A very necessary and productive expenditure!
It seems if law makers want to deal with pension reform first there needs to be slowing of the bathtubs (Corrections) filling as our schools and human services providers need attention.
In order to be part of the solution, we must be included in the conversation. What changes this dynamic is stop doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. It is our responsibility to speak out for those conceived injustices of long ago.
That is a Bold and Brilliant idea!
Bruce Bainbridge, AM6443
Attn: Right To Redemption
PO BOX 244
GRATERFORD, PA 19426