Recidivism

PA Banking On New Program Providing Inmates With Financial Savvy To Succeed

Oct 8, 2018
401(K) 2012/Flickr

Pennsylvania has a new idea to help lower recidivism rates.

Marc Levy / AP

Over half of Pennsylvania’s state prisoners end up back behind bars within five years of their release, according to official data. But the state is now participating in a study on how to bring that number down.

Marc Levy / AP

Governor Tom Wolf and a number of legislators are pushing for a slew of changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The call comes in the wake of a few victories for reform advocates, but in the face of opposition from a significant portion of the legislature’s GOP majority.

On the agenda are eight initiatives, including standardizing bail across counties, pumping more money into public defense, providing a clean slate for old misdemeanors, and a second phase of Justice Reinvestment initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism.

Marc Levy / AP

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.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is looking for ways to reduce the recidivism rate among formerly incarcerated individuals in the commonwealth.

“When you have two out of every three prisoners recidivate, meaning they commit crimes once they’re released from prison and end up back in prison, I think it tells you we need a much smarter approach when dealing with these returning citizens,” Shapiro said.

WhiteHouse.gov

According to the Department of Justice, around 70 million Americans have criminal records which hinder their chances of finding jobs. Monday, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County signed the White House’s Fair Chance Business Pledge to help those who have done their time get a second chance.

Flickr user Martin

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ State Intermediate Punishment, or SIP, program aims to help non-violent offenders get needed treatment with the ultimate goal of ensuring they don’t become repeat offenders.

The latest report on SIP found the program does seem to be working.

“The recidivism rate for the SIP offenders is 10 percentage points lower than a comparable rate of a group of inmates who do not go through SIP, who go through traditional sentencing,” said DOC spokeswoman Susan McNaughton.

Citing efforts aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing recidivism, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced a 908-person drop in the inmate population within the state prison system.

“This is the largest one year drop in the population since 1971 and only the fourth time in the past 40 years that the DOC population has shown an annual decrease rather than an increase,” said DOC spokeswoman Sue Bensinger.

Scaffolding covers much of the three-story brick house on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District.  Three men – an apprentice carpenter and two bricklayer apprentices – work on restoring the crumbling front façade, the roofing and the brickwork. 

But this isn’t your average restoration – the navy blue sign standing in front of the house reveals that it is the childhood home of famous Pittsburgh-born playwright August Wilson – and all three of the men working on it have either spent time on the streets or in jail.

Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration at Allegheny County Jail

Oct 8, 2014
Reid Carter / 90.5WESA

Breaking the cycle of jail and prison re-entry is not an easy process, especially for repeat offenders. There are lifestyle choices that need to be considered and often times avoided. 

But that requires the right behavioral coaching and support. The Allegheny County Jail runs a collaborative program with Pittsburgh Mercy Health System which was recently evaluated by the Urban Institute in Washington D.C. and found to successfully reduce recidivism.

We’ll talk about how the collaborative works with Karen Cordaro Team Leader Prevention/Intervention Services for PMHS. We’ll also talk with Darrell Robinson, from the Point Breeze area of Pittsburgh. He’s a repeat offender currently on work-release and going through the collaborative program. He’s also enrolled in the Mechatronics Program at CCAC.

The Urban Institute of Washington, D.C. has released its 12-month evaluation of the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative re-entry programs, concluding that they do in fact reduce recidivism. Members and supporters presented the findings at the jail.

Reducing recidivism saves tax dollars and enhances public safety. The collaborative works with those accepted into the program before and after they get out — with jobs, family support, cognitive behavioral intervention, and mental health or substance abuse issues.