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GOV. CASEY ANNOUNCES GRANTS FOR COUNTY PRISON CONSTRUCTION

 GOV. CASEY ANNOUNCES GRANTS FOR COUNTY PRISON CONSTRUCTION
 HARRISBURG, Pa., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Robert P. Casey announced today the award of $14.9 million in grants to 34 counties for prison construction and rehabilitation work completed within the past five years.
 The funds are the first to be distributed from a $200 million bond issue approved by the voters in November 1990 to help fund past, present and future county prison construction, expansion and renovation projects.
 "This is but another example of the Commonwealth acting to ease tax burdens at the local level," Casey said. "Because of spiraling crime rates, spurred in large measure by the scourge of illicit drug trafficking, our prisons at both the state and county levels are overflowing. These grants will assist counties which already have taken steps to address their prison overcrowding problems.
 "Yet to come," the governor added, "is an even larger infusion of state aid to counties now engaged in, or about to begin vitally needed prison construction and expansion projects."
 The $200 million grant program was authorized by Act 71 of 1990, the Prison Facilities Improvement Act, which also launched the largest and most ambitious state prison construction and expansion program in the Commonwealth's history -- an initiative that is adding 10,000 new cells to the state correctional system by 1995.
 The initial grants to counties for projects completed within the past five years account for half the cost of the project up to a maximum of $1 million. In the next phase of the grant program, being administered by the Department of Corrections, counties will be eligible to receive up to half the total cost of a prison construction, expansion or rehabilitation project with no ceiling imposed.
 To become eligible for grants, counties were required to develop intermediate punishment programs, prescribing alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders who pose little or no risk to public safety. Those alternatives include such sanctions as house arrest, electronic monitoring, intensive probation supervision, in- patient drug treatment and victim restitution programs.
 Corrections Commissioner Joseph D. Lehman said the requirement was intended to encourage changes in criminal justice policy at the county level to deal with low-risk classes of offenders in ways that preserve costly prison space for those offenders who require incarceration in the interest of public safety.
 "It should be clear to all of us that we cannot build our way out of our prison overcrowding problems at either the state or county level," Lehman said. "And, while we need all of the additional cell space we are committed to construct, we must also direct attention to the criminal justice policies that determine who we send to prison, for how long and under what conditions they are released. It is essential that we do that to prioritize the use of prisons for the confinement of the truly dangerous offenders who represent a clear threat to public safety."
 In the first round of grants for completed projects, nine of the 34 counties qualified for the maximum $1 million in aid. They are Bradford, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill and Tioga.
 The remaining 25 counties and their respective grants are: Adams, $586,239; Allegheny, $476,739; Armstrong, $6,873; Beaver, $54,871; Berks, $146,686; Bucks, $931,387; Butler, $181,467; Centre, $265,900; Clinton, $427,078; Crawford, $46,024; Cumberland, $94,852; Dauphin, $928,493; Delaware, $328,131; Erie, $52,312; Lackawanna, $179,964; Lebanon, $19,837; Lycoming, $220,039; Mercer, $43,790; Northumberland, $51,569; Pike, $106,394; Potter, $33,303; Somerset, $38,874; Venango, $163,268; Westmoreland, $338,328; and Wyoming, $184,519.
 /delval/
 -0- 4/15/92
 /CONTACT: Ben Livingood of the Department of Corrections, 717-975-4862, or John L. Taylor of the Commonwealth News Bureau, 717-783-1116/ CO: Pennsylvania Governor's Office; Pennsylvania Department of
 Corrections ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MK -- PH018 -- 8658 04/15/92 11:48 EDT
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Date:Apr 15, 1992
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