New center in York City to help parolees return to society

GEO Reentry Services recently opened a day reporting center in York, Pa., to successfully prepare parolees for life after prison. The center was one of nine opened by GEO Reentry in Pennsylvania as part of a state initiative to reduce recidivism and the high costs of incarceration while enhancing public safety. This article originally appeared in The York Dispatch.

YORK, Pa. — A center has opened in York City to help former inmates transition to normal life.

Having finalized a contract with the state Department of Corrections, GEO Reentry Services opened a “parolee re-entry center” earlier this month at 1 W. Market St.

Centers like the one in York are designed to reduce recidivism and help parolees prepare for life after prison.

GEO has also contracted with the corrections department to open centers in Allentown, Chambersburg, Ebensburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre.

York’s center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Services offered include behavioral therapy classes, workforce development, connections to community service providers, GED preparation courses, life skills classes and substance-abuse help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, aims “to change the way a person thinks,” said Matt Wirtner, a spokesman for GEO.

“The goal is to reduce recidivism, absolutely,” Wirtner said. “This is providing parolees with services that they might not have had access to before.”

Wirtner said York’s center will serve York County residents only. Participants will be referred by their parole officer, he said.

Local organization Crispus Attucks had also submitted a bid for a contract with the corrections department. But it learned in November that it would not receive the contract.

Nonetheless, Crispus Attucks will continue to offer workforce development services for former inmates, said Raquel Lilly, a Crispus Attucks programs manager.

“We’re really happy that they are going to offer that day reporting center here,” Lilly said.