State Releases Recidivism Report, Finds $44.7 Million in Potential Savings

Mar 1, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections released a comprehensive state recidivism report this week.

This is the first such recidivism report in six years – the department used to do a much more pared down report.

This report details how often re-offenders commit crimes, what crimes are most likely to end in re-incarceration and how much taxpayers can save - $44.7 million a year - with some changes to the system.

Last summer, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Governor Tom Corbett’s two correctional reform bills, which were part of the Justice Reinvention Initiative, an effort to cut down on correctional spending in The Commonwealth.

Bret Bucklen, Director of Bureau Planning and Statistics, whose office compiled this report, said some of the reasons for the recidivism were addressed in the correctional reform bills.

“If we can treat technical parole violators in community corrections centers rather than in state prison we expect to get better outcomes, better results. If there are lower level misdemeanors who previously went to state prison – part of the justice reinvention initiative is prohibiting certain low-level misdemeanors from coming to state prisons,” he said. 

It costs about 90 dollars a day to house an inmate in the state prison system but in the range of 60 to 70 dollars a day in a community corrections center or county jail.

In Pennsylvania about six out of every ten inmates recidivate – a number that has remained steady for at least the last decade.   

The report looked at recidivism in different parts of the state.

Re-arrest rates tend to be higher in urban areas and re-incarceration rates tend to be higher in rural areas. Bucklen said that might be due to the characteristics of the areas.

“There is a bigger police presence in urban areas. So you are more than likely to come in contact with police if you get arrested and you are doing something wrong. Whereas in more rural areas with less police presence you are more likely to be picked up by say a parole officer,” he said.

Based on studies by the Department of Justice and The Pew Foundation comparing states, Pennsylvania is about average when it comes to these statistics.

Bucklen said he hopes this is a starting point.