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New Sentencing Program Questions

sentencing sentencing

The new Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive (RRRI) program is up and running, and we’ve gotten a few questions about it already.

See Brian’s December 10 post for the basic facts of the program.

Question: Do crime victims have a say in whether a criminal defendant gets the benefit of a RRRI sentence?

Answer: Crime victims cannot prevent a RRRI sentence if the offender is eligible. However, if the Judge and the prosecutor both agree to waive an offender’s ineligibility, the crime victim has the absolute right to prior notice from the prosecutor and also has the right to object to the judge. Although the judge may still impose a RRRI minimum, crime victims have the right to be heard.

Question: Can the Judge or the DA change their minds about a RRRI waiver once somebody comes up for parole?

Answer: The sentencing judge loses jurisdiction over the case thirty days after the sentencing, and in that sense, the judge can’t ‘take back’ the RRRI minimum. However, Act 83 of 2008 provides that a judge or a prosecutor can make an argument to the parole board that a potential parolee is no longer eligible for parole at the RRRI minimum for a number of reasons, for example, if new information about a previously unknown prior conviction has come to light.

The new RRRI sentencing program is a huge benefit not only for convicted persons, but for society as a whole. It allows the taxpayers to save a whole lot of money while ensuring that only certain classes of offenders who have good behavior can get out early. As a new program, this will generate a lot of questions from the public, from criminal defendants, and their loved ones. Keep your questions coming, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

6 Comments on New Sentencing Program Questions

  1. saleel // at 8:32 pm // Reply

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. sli8400 // at 8:32 pm // Reply

    my son was convicted of a dealing crime and got a reduced sentence of 35 months with the RRRI program.
    How long does it take to complete in prison and is there any hope we can get him released earlier then the 35 months?
    thank you

  3. @sli8400, depending on the actual entire sentence, assuming the minimum is your son will be eligible for parole at 26 or 27 months if he completes all of the rrri requirements. However, just because he completes the classes does not mean that he will be paroled at 26 or 27 months, it just means he is eligible. If he gets write ups or doesn't complete other programs prescribed in the plan, he may not get paroled at his rrri minimum.

  4. Anonymous // at 1:18 am // Reply

    Do all of the Pennsylvania prison participate in the RRRI programs or is the program ran in just minimum security facilities?

  5. @Anon, I don't know if all facilities participate in rrri. However, my understanding is that everyone goes to SCI Camp Hill first, to get classified, before they get shipped to their home institution. Accordingly, if someone is rrri eligible, you would think the DOC would send them to an institution that has rrri classes. Also, just because the sentencing judge makes someone rrri eligible, doesn't mean the person is rrri eligible. The guidelines for rrri eligibility read to me as though the person must have a completely non-violent past (gun possession being considered a crime of violence, even though its a possessory offense). People with no violent history at all are almost always classified as such, so I don't think this would ever be an issue.

  6. Anonymous // at 12:21 pm // Reply

    Thank you for responding so quickly. My husband was a first time offender and had no violent pass. He made a deal and had to surrender on Tuesday, he is at CFCF and I'm concerned he will have to go to Graterford. What I have read about Graterford is it is a maximum security prison and we were lead to believe from his attorney that my husband was being classified as low or minimal security. Everything that I am reading about the RRRI is that the program is behind and that once you get to your "home prison" you must constantly ask your counselor about the "classes".

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