Franklin County DRC reduces recidivism

Like many counties across the nation, Franklin County, Pa., has struggled with rising crime rates and overcrowded jails. In 2003, the county’s 194-bed prison saw its inmate count climb as high as 400. With such severe overcrowding, the county contended with the prospect of building a $40 million, 600-bed jail facility.

In April 2006, BI helped the county open a day reporting center to provide cognitive behavioral treatment and evidence-based programs for offenders. Because the county could divert low-level offenders to the DRC instead of jail, the county was able to build a smaller jail facility with 468 beds. This saved Franklin $10 million in building costs, as well as $3 million in annual operational costs.

Since the DRC opened, the jail population has remained below 400 inmates, effectively solving the problem of jail crowding. The DRC has also helped reduce recidivism in Franklin, with program graduates recidivating at a low rate of 18.2 percent, compared to the national average of 67 percent. And while the crime rate increased across Pennsylvania between 2006 and 2008, crime actually decreased in Franklin County from 75 crimes per 1,000 residents to 55 crimes.

The county continues to reevaluate and improve the center’s programs. Observing that offenders with mental health issues had been struggling at the DRC, the county introduced the Jail Diversion Program. Specially-trained case managers work closely with these offenders, stabilizing their mental health with proper medication and additional counseling. Now, these offenders are among the most successful graduates.

The county saw that offenders with a history of narcotics addiction had also been struggling to successfully complete the program. As a result, the county implemented the Medication Assisted Treatment Program, which gives these offenders access to medications that help stabilize them and make them more receptive to treatment. With the implementation of this program, 79 percent of individuals with a history of narcotics addiction now successfully complete the program.