Study provides snapshot of Pa. recidivism rate

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections is touting what it calls a landmark study of recidivism rates.

    The report is meant to help assess the effect of recently passed prison reforms — eventually.

    This is a report destined to sit on a shelf for a while — it doesn’t offer recommendations, it establishes what the agency calls a baseline against which to measure future recidivism rates.

    Corrections Department research director Bret Bucklen says it also allows the state to connect pay to performance when it comes to roughly 40 private contractors that run halfway houses.

    He says those contracts will be renegotiated with additional requirements on the private managers.

    “We’re rebidding all of those contracts and one of the new things that we’re doing … is asking them to maintain a baseline recidivism rate as is established in the report and the data behind the report,” he said. “And if they maintain that, great. If they reduce it, then there’ll be an incentive for reducing recidivism.”

    Last fall, the Corbett administration signed into law several prison reforms aimed at reducing the prison population and recidivism in part, by relying more on community-based facilities such as halfway houses.

    The study shows that between 2000 and 2010, six out of 10 inmates left state prison, only to be arrested again or locked up once more within three years.

    The highest recidivism rates were in Dauphin, Philadelphia, and Allegheny counties.

    Bucklen says Dauphin County’s recidivism rate was consistent with its crime rate, which is the highest per capita in Pennsylvania.

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