Based on a new study that shows high recidivism rates in Pennsylvania, state officials will offer financial incentives to community corrections facilities to improve their performance, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The report, which includes data going back to 2000, shows that statewide, the percentage of people who commit new crimes or are sent back to prison for parole violations is 59.9 percent. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning, who oversees the criminal division, said that rate is disheartening. "We call it the Department of Corrections, and apparently, it's not correcting anything," he said.
The judge said the most important things in reducing recidivism include drug and alcohol and mental health treatment, as well as job training. "There are only two answers to a 60 percent recidivism rate," Judge Manning said. "And those are to release an improved inmate into society or keep them all locked up forever. And the first one is cheaper than the second." Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said the focus to reduce crime will be driven by data and quantifiable results. Under a new law, facilities billed as "community corrections centers," are having their contracts rebid this year. Using the recidivism report as a baseline, the facilities that win contracts must meet at least the minimum recidivism rate -- 60 percent -- to continue their relationship with the state.