I certainly won’t be voting to reelect Tom Corbett or anything, but when he leaves office in January 2015, one good thing I’ll say about his record without reservation is that he improved the criminal justice system in a big way.
First came the big bipartisan corrections reform bill supported by everyone from the ACLU to the Commonwealth Foundation, which included a number of exciting ideas for cutting costs and improving public safety.
Now the administration is rolling out a new mix of policies to crack down on recidivism:
The state is scrapping all contracts with the private companies that run 38 community corrections centers – better known as half-way houses – requiring them to rebid and making the new contracts performance-based.
Under the new contracts, if the recidivism rate for inmates passing through the center decline, the contractor will be paid a higher rate.
Profit will now be tied to public safety.
At the same time, the Department of Corrections has changed the way it calculates recidivism, including for the first time ever arrest data from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Previously, the state calculated recidivism by counting the number of former inmates who return to prison: that rate was about 40 percent in the first three years after release.
Now, the recidivism rate in cludes the number of former inmates who subsequently get arrested in Pennsylvania for any reason: that rate is roughly 60 percent, and apparently has been for years.
(via Donald Gilliland)