To help cope with chronic recidivism and crowded jails, counties nationwide are moving toward integration of community programs. Several counties in Pennsylvania, including Cambria County, have implemented day reporting programs in recent years and the results have been positive.
In early 2012, Cambria County selected GEO Reentry to open and operate a day reporting center based on the company’s expertise in evidence-based programs focused on reducing recidivism. GEO partnered with county officials to develop a program designed to meet Cambria’s specific needs and provide an effective alternative to detention.
The center opened in May 2012 and currently treats 80 clients, including probationers, parolees and direct sentence offenders. Offenders participate in a variety of evidence-based programs, cognitive behavioral therapy designed to change criminal behavior, and community partnerships. The center offers classes designed to help offenders become contributing members of the communities they live in. These classes include GED preparatory courses, life skills classes and employment readiness. GEO closely monitors all clients’ behavior with daily check-ins, drug and alcohol testing, and case management.
In July 2013, the day reporting center graduated its first class. The center held a ceremony in honor of the 27 graduates. One of the graduates, John Ribblet, spoke to the audience and praised the center’s programs for helping him turn his life around. “If it wasn’t for the day reporting center program, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” he said.
In addition to helping rehabilitate offenders, the day reporting center has helped alleviate jail overcrowding in Cambria County. The center’s programs cost less than half of the $55 a day it costs to house an inmate in jail, which has saved the county money. Additionally, it has helped lessen the burden on probation officers by reducing their caseload duties. This has provided officers with the time they need to ensure offender compliance and conduct field supervision.