Corrections pilot program results show reduced recidivism

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Aug 23, 2017 12:00 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A new disciplinary program in the state Department of Corrections (DOC) is proving to be effective at lowering offenders' re-arrest rates.

Inmates have participated in State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) since 2005.
It puts non-violent drug offenders in a community corrections setting with drug and alcohol treatment after ten months served in prison. 

In 2015, the department combined SIP with a program out of Hawaii, known as HOPE.
It still provides recovery services, but also sets strict guidelines for dealing with bad behavior. A first offense can result in 24 hours back in prison, while further violations can get a participant expelled from the program. 

DOC research director Bret Bucklen says the pilot supports research that shows punishments need to be swift, certain, and fair to be effective. 

"We don't need to always spank our kids when they do something wrong, but we do need to do something consistenly when they violate the rules of the household," Bucklen said. "So time-outs--and we don't wait eight months to do that."

Bucklen says, after a two-year pilot at two locations, the program is proving to be effective at reducing recidivism.

"So it's kind of like we're incrementally getting better, because SIP was better than the general population and now we have this SIP-HOPE pilot on top of SIP, which is 13 percent lower than SIP by itself."

Because of this early success, the DOC is slowly rolling out the program statewide. 

Bucklen says they also plan to study drug relapse rates for participants in the program.

If it continues to be successful, the SIP-HOPE could become standard practice across the commonwealth.

Tagged under , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »