Radio Times

The problem with Pennsylvania’s system of halfway houses for paroled inmates

April 9, 2013

Guests: John Wetzel and Sam Dolnick

A new report by the Pennsylvania Corrections Department shows that the state’s halfway houses are failing.  Recidivism rates are higher for inmates paroled to halfway houses than inmates released directly to the street, 67 percent to 60 percent.  Halfway houses are supposed to rehabilitate prisoners but the facilities in Pennsylvania, many of them run by private operators, are clearly under-performing and costing a lot — $110 million a year.  Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary JOHN WETZEL wants to reform the system, including renegotiating contracts with private companies to include a pay for performance incentive.  Today we’ll discuss the halfway house model with Secretary Wetzel – can it be fixed and how do you prevent recidivism?  And is change coming fast enough to New Jersey’s halfway houses which have been the center of recent scrutiny?  Marty talks with New York Times reporter SAM DOLNICK, who wrote an award-winning series on the New Jersey facilities.

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