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Pa. to combine some corrections department, parole board functions

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Inmates move around one of the interior courtyards of the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill on Jan. 13, 2017.
Inmates move around one of the interior courtyards of the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill on Jan. 13, 2017. - (Photo / )

Pennsylvania plans to combine certain functions of its Department of Corrections and its Board of Probation and Parole in an effort to "eliminate bureaucratic redundancies," Gov. Tom Wolf's office announced Thursday.

The consolidations are not a full merger - a strategy that the Wolf administration used to cut costs when it created the new Department of Health and Human Services - but rather a move to decrease overlap between certain administrative functions.

“We are giving legislators exactly what they have been calling for – taxpayer savings through the restructuring of state government; and we’re doing so in a way that continues to provide for public safety while eliminating duplication of efforts,” Wolf said in a news release.

The move specifically combines supervision of parolees and other re-entry services. Employees for the corrections department and parole board will keep their jobs and salaries, according to the state, and the parole board will maintain its independence in making decisions about inmates' futures.

The consolidation is expected to save the state only $9.8 million in its first year, but officials hope to see bigger payoffs, both in terms of finances and improved processes, in the long run, PennLive reported.

Some Republican lawmakers and staff have criticized the move, with some preferring a full merger of the board and department and others criticizing Wolf for what they say is an overreach of his authority as governor.

The consolidation comes less than a year after the Wolf administration closed the state's Pittsburgh prison in an effort to fill a then-projected $200 million hole in the correction department's budget for the coming year.

This story has been updated to include the estimated financial savings from the consolidation and information about Republican lawmakers' responses to the move.

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Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at jwentz@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @jenni_wentz.

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