In this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the assumption of local officials that services will increase rehabilitation are following in the well-trod path of many failures before—see our rehabilitation blog— in believing that if you provide criminals with enough services, they will rehabilitate.

Becoming a criminal is a result of an individual making a personal decision, based on the perceived rewards, to commit crimes; and as long as the rewards are there the decision will remain.

It is only through internal change that criminals rehabilitate and that can only come from a conscious decision to change.

See the Lampstand program model on our webpage.

An excerpt from the Post-Gazette article.

“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 report released Thursday, 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.

“In Allegheny County, that number is 61.9 percent, ranking third behind Dauphin and Philadelphia counties.

“Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. 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.”

“In his introduction to the report, Corrections Secretary John E. Wetzel said that under the Corbett administration, the focus to reduce crime will be driven by data and quantifiable results.

“Citizens of the Commonwealth should have every expectation of a corrections system that actually helps people correct themselves; one that is based on research, not on anecdotal stories and innuendo,” he wrote.

“Moving forward, the results of the recidivism study will be used as a benchmark to measure the success of programs, said Bret Bucklen, the director of planning, research and statistics for the state Department of Corrections.

“For example, under new legislation passed last year, those 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.

“They’ll be required to maintain that baseline and will be incentivized if they reduce [recidivism,]” Mr. Bucklen said.”