PA Program Seeks To Break Jail Cycle For Inmates


Trying to break a cycle for repeat offenders, authorities in Pittsburgh are putting county jail inmates through an intensive two-month program aimed at helping them deal with drug and alcohol addiction, anger management and other behavioral issues, reports the city’s Post-Gazette. Jail officials now are planning to use a $200,000 Heinz Endowment grant to expand that faith-based pre-release program, Warden Ramon Rustin said.

Research and experience have shown social workers in the criminal justice system that preparing inmates to adjust to life with their families after jail is directly related to preventing their chronic relapses into criminal behavior, the warden said. The jail’s average daily population is 2,600 inmates, and the average sentence is for six to 12 months. About 65 percent of the 345 inmates released every month end up back in jail within a short time. By comparison, the rate of relapse and return for inmates who go through the jail’s Helping Open People’s Eyes, or HOPE, program, is about 12 percent, he said.

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