Pennsylvania reports drop in recidivism rates in state prison system

An “exciting” drop in recidivism rates in Pennsylvania’s state corrections system demonstrates that prison reform efforts are showing concrete results in the area of public safety, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced in a release this week.

The department released updated statistics that show the six-month, one-year and three-year recidivism rates for the year 2000 through 2013. All three rates dropped in the latest year, with the statistics showing:

  • The latest three-year recidivism rate is the lowest rate the DOC has ever recorded.
  • The latest three-year recidivism rate is also the second-largest drop in the three-year recidivism rate from the previous year (from 61.4 percent in 2010 to 59.5 percent in 2011).
  • The latest one-year recidivism rate is the second lowest the DOC has ever recorded.
  • It is also by far the largest drop in the one-year rate from the previous year (from 40.4 percent in 2012 to 35.1 percent in 2013 – or a drop of 5.3 percentage points).
  • The latest six-month recidivism rate is the lowest the DOC has ever recorded.
  • It also is the largest drop in the six-month rate from the previous year (from 24.1 percent in 2012 to 19.0 percent in 2013, or a drop of 5.1 percentage points).

“These are exciting numbers and show that we’re making real increases in public safety,” Wetzel said. “I look forward to continued work with the General Assembly, the law enforcement community and Governor Wolf to continue this important trend.”

As the release states, from 2013 to 2014, there were approximately 1,028 fewer individuals released from the DOC who broke the law or violated the rules of their supervision.

“The decrease in new court commitments, which is a driver of this recidivism reduction, is proof that the efforts of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative are working.  All stakeholders in this process – including the General Assembly and district attorneys – should be credited for their on-going, bi-partisan efforts,” Wetzel said.

As part of their justice reform initiative, the DOC selected GEO Reentry Services to open several parolee reentry service centers in key cities in the state, including Allentown, Chambersburg, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The centers provide day reporting services for parolees, who are required to take part in cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatment, as well as life skills training so they are successfully prepared to reenter their communities following prison and community supervision.

Participants report to the programs for an average of 180 days, plus aftercare. GEO Reentry closely monitors the behavior of parolees referred to the centers with daily check-ins, drug and alcohol testing, and case management. Participants receive the ongoing treatment needed to help break cycles of criminal behavior.

Learn more about our approach.