Pennsylvania Tries New Anti-Recidivism Strategy

YORK, Pa. — York County Prison is serving as the location of a pilot program designed to improve recidivism by transferring state inmates to county lockups before they are released.
Under the program, selected non-violent inmates who are nearing their release dates are transferred to York County Prison to take part in the work-release program with the aim of keeping them from being re-incarcerated after they are released.
So far, 12 state prison inmates have been placed at the county prison, said Claire Doll, a deputy warden at the prison.
It costs $70 a day to house an inmate, but that money is coming from the general welfare fund, which is funded through commissary sales at prisons, said Warden Mary Sabol.
The program has shown promise and will be introduced to other county prisons, said Sue Bensinger, a spokesperson with the Department of Corrections.
While still in the preliminary stages, county prisons are being asked to take part in the program. Sixty-three of the 67 counties in the state have county prisons.
The program at York County Prison began with 10 inmates and quickly expanded to 12. Sabol said she expects that number to soon increase to 20.
That number could increase significantly once a planned $5.9 million project to renovate a building to house work-release prisoners is complete. The property in Springettsbury Township is located across the street from the prison.
Once it is fully rolled out, the statewide work-release program could accommodate 300 inmates, up from its current 200.
The program requires an inmate nearing release to pass a series of evaluations in order to take part. Once in the program, employment and education are open to inmates to help reduce recidivism.
Many of the inmates were incarcerated for drug-related offences.
As the program expands, inmates will be sent to prisons in counties where they have a support system, such as family, in place.