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Report Shows the Rate of Recidivism in Pennsylvania Prisons Has Stagnated in the Last 15 Years

The Confluence - September 12, 2022

The State Department of Corrections released its first comprehensive report on recidivism since 2013, and found that the rate of re-arrest or re-incarceration of individuals who have previously been in prison has not improved over the last 15 years.

Approximately two-thirds of re-entrants are re-arrested or return to DOC custody within three years of being released, costing taxpayers $3.1 billion every year.

Kirstin Cornell, the family and community support director for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, explains that parole violations are one of the biggest reasons people are sent back to prison.

“We need to be taking a long, hard look at the number of people who are being recommitted for technical offenses, that they've done something that violates the terms of their probation, whether it's breaking curfew, having a drug test come back positive,” says Cornell. “Is incarceration really the appropriate response there?”

With more than 36,000 people incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s state correctional institutions, recidivism is just one measure to address. The report suggests also assessing “desistance,” or the process by which someone slows the rate of or stops offending over time. A random sample of 100 formerly incarcerated people released in 2004 found 57 committed less serious crimes after prison and 20 did not commit other offenses after their release.

To read the full article and report, click here.

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