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New Study Could Aid PA Dept. Of Corrections With Efforts To Combat Recidivism

Marc Levy
Cells are shown in a newly cleared wing at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.

In Pennsylvania, about 60 percent of parolees are rearrested or reenter the prison system within three years of release. About 20,000 people are released from the prison system each year.

Over two years, a University of Maryland study commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections found inmates willing to relocate cities after release were seven percent less likely to be rearrested or reincarcerated, compared to their peers who went back to their former communities.

Bret Bucklen, the DOC's director of planning, research and statistics, said for some inmates, aspects of their old community such as family and friend networks help them stay out of trouble.

"But for a certain number of them, those kind of things are what lead them to prison in the first place," he said.

Bucklen said the study results are prompting the Department to consider new reentry policies -- but the DOC would not force people to relocate.

"But what the policy discussions will be as a result of this study are how we can encourage our reentrants who would benefit from relocating to consider relocation, and how we can accommodate that if they're willing to do so," he said.

Relocation would be organized with the help of halfway houses.

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.