We’ve got a recidivism crisis in PA – half of all inmates in the state will be back in jail within 5 years of their release. If prison is for rehabilitation, it’s not working.
Whether this revolving-door syndrome is a result of faulty rehabilitation efforts by the Department of Corrections, the inmates’ personal failings, both, or something else, the revolving prison door costs taxpayers a staggering amount.
Take last year’s five-year recidivism rate of 55 percent. Of the 13,792 inmates released in 2005, 7,627 were back in prison last year. The state spends $32,059 annually per inmate, so that translated to a taxpayer tally of roughly $244 million.
And that price tag is likely to grow given that state officials estimate that the overall inmate population will climb from 51,400 today to 61,146 in 2014.
“I don’t think the public knows that,” Jocelyn Fontaine, of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, said of the high cost of recidivism. “I don’t know if it’s an issue of out of sight, out of mind. I think they would be a bit more outraged about it if they knew.”