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A Guide to the Jail/Prison Process

"If victims do not know how and when to participate, they are not likely to exercise their rights"

If you are a victim of crime, you may have many questions about the jail/prison process and want to know what happens to the offender while they are in prison.  You also may want to know and be kept up to date when the offender could be released on work release, furlough, to a halfway house or paroled.

To receive your rights and notifications on offenders while they are incarcerated:

  • If the offender is in a county jail, it is important for you to register with PA SAVIN.
  • If the offender is in a state prison. it is important for you to register with the Office of the Victim Advocate.  Victims have the right to provide input into  certain releases of the offender.  Input is the right that crime victims, registered with the OVA, have to provide information to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole decision makers about the ongoing impact of the crime when the offender in their case is being reviewed.

During the sentencing phase, which is after the offender is found guilty or enters a guilty plea, a judge can decide to send the offender to jail or prison.  Normally, a facility run by a county is called a jail, while a facility run by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is called a prison.  Not only are the facilities different, but the jail and prison processes are also different.

Follow these links to find out more about the sentencing process for county jails and state DOC prisons.