Lancaster Co. to create in-house prison reentry position

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Jul 16, 2018 1:31 PM

This story has been updated to include a statement from GEO Group and to clarify the amount of the bid.

(Harrisburg) -- Lancaster County is looking to provide prison reentry services in-house, after rejecting a for-profit company's bid to take over the programs. 

Nonprofits that had previously done the work chose not to participate in the county's new request-for-proposals system. Community groups such as Lancaster Stands Up opposed a bid from the for-profit GEO Group to take over reentry services. 

Commissioner Josh Parsons said such concerns were one of the reasons he proposed creating a new county position. 

"Because we really -- all sides have been unified on making it a professional, well-run organization that reduces recidivism and I just want to make sure we're maintaining that," Parsons said.

The other part was cost. GEO proposed a $361,000 contract to help former inmates reenter society. Parsons said that bid was "significantly higher" than what the county spent previously.  Lancaster Reentry Management Organization's $100,000 contract ended June 30. 

Parsons said having a reentry director will help improve coordination between existing departments such as probation and parole, behavioral health, and the prison.

"And frankly give the county more ownership over this issue, because at its heart the issue is about public safety. When we let someone out of the prison we don't want them coming back," Parsons said.

A job description is being developed and commissioners hope to receive approval from the county's salary board next month. 


GEO Statement:

We are pleased that Lancaster County commissioners recognized the quality of our reentry services, and we respect their decision. We are also proud of our successful track record in Lancaster and throughout the state of Pennsylvania, and we are committed to continue providing the best quality reentry services for years to come. It's unfortunate that this procurement process impacts Lancaster county residents, who have earned the right to rebuild their lives. They will not be afforded the opportunity to receive GEO's high quality, evidence-based reentry services and the best opportunity for successfully reentering society.

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