The PA Chamber issued a memo to Senate lawmakers last week in support of S.B. 913 that aims to reform Pennsylvania’s probation laws, including aspects of the system related to employment. More broadly, the legislation also aims to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on the system, while better integrating probationers into society.
Senate Bill 913 provides incentives and an opportunity for early release from probation through participation in education, employment, vocational and drug treatment programming. Job training and gainful employment have been shown to reduce recidivism, with fewer individuals returning to prison, which has significantly positive implications for the prison system, communities and, most importantly, the individuals and their families.
The bill also directs the courts to consider scheduling confinement around a probationer’s work schedule in the event of revocation for a technical violation.
The memo noted that Pennsylvania remains in the midst of a workforce crisis as many employers’ struggle to find workers for open positions. Addressing this challenge will require a multi-pronged approach, including helping facilitate employment among reentrants and individuals with a criminal record.
The bill passed with bipartisan support and is now before the PA House for consideration.