In November 2008, Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive legislation was enacted. Referred to as RRRI, the law enables eligible, non-violent offenders to reduce their minimum sentences if they complete recommended programs and maintain a positive prison adjustment, or in other words, they practice good conduct and remain misconduct free during their incarceration. The reduction provided is a percentage off their minimum sentence that is based upon the sentence length.
Although reducing time served in prison may be cost effective for the commonwealth, RRRI is principally a public safety initiative to reduce recidivism and victimization. The intent is to provide more access to crime-reducing drug treatment programs and to provide incentives to less violent offenders to complete programs that will provide them with tools to help them live productive, law-abiding lives.
Research demonstrates that public safety is enhanced when less violent offenders complete evidence-based programs that address their criminal ways of thinking and behaviors and follow the rules during incarceration. Such offenders are less likely to victimize someone else after they are released. Research further tells us that the longer these less serious offenders remain in prison the greater the chance that they will recidivate.
The certainty of punishment — not the severity or a lengthy punishment — is the key to success. RRRI provides incentives to such less violent offenders to behave well and participate in crime-reducing programming during incarceration and ultimately remain crime-free after release.
RRRI only applies to sentences handed down after implementation of the law – it is not retroactive. However, if a sentence is vacated and resentenced after implementation of the legislation, the offender may be eligible for RRRI. Also, current inmates who have detainers may be eligible for RRRI sentences upon conviction on the detainer offenses if the sentence is imposed on or after November 24, 2008.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for RRRI?
Generally, only less serious offenders (defined as those who have not committed a personal injury crime, a sex crime, a crime with a firearm and are not considered to be drug kingpins) are eligible for RRRI. These offenders are generally drug and/or alcohol dependent, which is the chief motivating factor that has led to their crime. Certain specific offenses, current or prior, preclude eligibility.
An offender who is convicted and will be committed to the custody of the DOC must meet the following eligibility requirements to be eligible for RRRI:
• Does not demonstrate a history of past or present violent behavior.
• Has not received a weapons enhancement sentence and has not been convicted of an offense involving a deadly weapon or an offense under Title 18 Chapter 61 (relating to firearms and other dangerous articles) or any equivalent offense.
• Has not been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for a personal injury crime (including any equivalent offense, attempt, or conspiracy) as defined under the Crime Victims Act of 1998.
• Has not been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for violating any of the following:
• Open Lewdness
• Sexual Abuse of Children
• Unlawful Contact with Minor
• Sexual Exploitation of Children
• Internet Child Pornography
• Certain drug offenses committed with firearms (PWID) resulting in mandatory 5 year sentence
• Luring Child into Motor Vehicle
• Institutional Sexual Assault
• Indecent Assault
• Promoting Prostitution
• Certain portions of Title 18 Chapter 59 relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances
• Is not awaiting trial or sentencing for additional criminal charges if a conviction or sentence for the charges would render the offender ineligible
• Has not been convicted of certain provisions of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (relating to drug trafficking)
How does RRRI work at the time of sentencing?
At the time of sentencing, the court will make a determination whether the defendant is an eligible offender. The prosecuting attorney has an opportunity to argue eligibility, and the victim has a right to provide input. The court will prescribe two minimum sentences; one is the RRRI minimum, and the other is the regular minimum. For example, for a less violent offender who is eligible for the incentive and receives a typical 2 year to 4 year sentence, the RRRI minimum would be 18 months, and the regular minimum 2 years.
Is RRRI a one-time opportunity for an offender?
No. In the case of an offender with a drug or alcohol addiction, research tells us that most individuals entering substance abuse treatment for the first time are at high risk for relapse. Therefore, eligibility is not a one-time opportunity.
How many opportunities does an eligible offender have for RRRI?
If an offender was previously sentenced to two or more RRRI sentences, the court has the discretion to impose a sentence with no RRRI minimum sentence; however, there is no limit to how many times an eligible offender is sentenced to a RRRI sentence.
Can an offender still receive a RRRI minimum sentence if he or she is not eligible?
The legislation permits the prosecuting attorney to waive the eligibility requirements if the victim has been given notice of the intended waiver and an opportunity to be heard on the issue. The court may refuse to accept the waiver after considering the victim’s input.
What are the requirements for an eligible offender to successfully complete a RRRI minimum sentence and be considered for early parole?
The legislation requires the DOC to certify that the following have occurred:
1. The DOC has conducted an appropriate assessment of the treatment needs and risks of the inmate using nationally recognized assessment tools that have been normed and validated. The DOC currently does this for all new commitments.
2. The DOC has developed a program plan that is appropriate for the individual offender based on the assessment. The program plan is designed to reduce the risk of recidivism through the use of recidivism risk reduction programs that are authorized and approved under the legislation. The DOC currently does this for all new commitments.
3. The DOC has advised the inmate that the inmate is required to successfully complete the program plan.
4. The DOC has determined that the inmate continues to be an eligible offender.
The legislation requires the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP) to determine that the DOC has provided proper certification and to evaluate the following:
1. The inmate has successfully completed all required RRRI programs on the program plan.
2. The inmate has maintained a good conduct record following imposition of the RRRI minimum sentence.
3. The reentry plan for the inmate is adequate.
4. Individual conditions and requirements for parole have been established.
5. Notice and opportunity to be heard was provided by PBPP to the sentencing court and the prosecuting attorney in a manner consistent with the legislation.
6. There is no reasonable indication that the offender poses a risk to public safety.
What is the difference between an eligible offender and a certified offender?
An eligible offender is one that is eligible to receive a RRRI sentence. A certified offender is one that has successfully completed all RRRI requirements and may be released on the RRRI minimum sentence at the discretion of PBPP.
How and when will PBPP be notified that DOC has received a RRRI eligible offender?
Parole must initiate a parallel process at the same time that DOC must initiate the RRRI process. The institutional parole supervisor is notified that an RRRI eligible offender has been received at the same time that the prison’s records office, counselor and the Office of Victim Advocate are notified.
What is the definition of Positive Adjustment and Good Conduct?
Adjustment will reflect the previous 12 months of incarceration in a DOC facility (county adjustment does not apply):
• Inmate must have no more than two misconducts of any class, and
• No more than one Class I misconduct, and
• An overall average to above average rating for work and housing reports, and
• A rating of program compliant, partial compliance, or motivated waiting for recommended programs, and
• Overall compliance with the general expectations, as outlined in the inmate’s correctional plan.
Documents and Assistance
Questions about Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive should be sent to: SIPRRRI@pa.gov
Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program 2016 Report (DOC) (pdf)
Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program 2014 Report (DOC) (pdf)
Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program 2012 Report (DOC) (pdf)
Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program 2011 Report (DOC) (pdf)
PA Commission on Sentencing: Pennsylvania's Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program (January 2010) (pdf)