Anything that can potentially save Pennsylvania millions of dollars a year is worth considering.
Consultants issued a report last week that said millions of dollars could be saved by reserving state prison beds for criminals convicted of the most serious crimes and serving longer terms and diverting more low-level offenders to other programs.
The Council of State Governments says decreasing reliance on prison space would shrink the prison population by thousands of inmates.
The estimated savings would be $350 million over five years and a quarter of that could be used for other changes in the prison system, such as dedicating community corrections centers for prisoners nearing parole.
The state's Corrections Department budget is nearly $2 billion and the prison population of 51,000 is more than six times what it was in 1980.
We're all for at least considering a change from the philosophy of across-the-board incarceration, as long as communities aren't jeopardized by too much leniency regarding jail time.
The better approach probably is serious prison time for serious crimes, with an emphasis on non-prison alternative punishments and rehabilitation for low-level misdemeanor offenses.
What we don't want is all the prison terms simply transferred into local prison responsibility, because the facilities aren't there for that.
But wouldn't it be nice if some of that $2 billion a year could be spent instead on worthy human services programs that have endured budget cuts in the past few years?
The Legislature should strongly consider the Council's recommendations.