Pennsylvania Pays More to Halfway House Programs That Cut Recidivism


Six of 10 inmates paroled from Pennsylvania prisons were arrested again within three years, a state study found. Parolees released to the streets were reincarcerated less often than those who first spent time in halfway houses, whose goal is preventing such recidivism. The Wall Street Journal says those findings prompted officials to demand better results from halfway houses by linking outcomes to payments. The Department of Corrections this year reworked agreements with more than a dozen contractors that run halfway houses, as well as mental-health and drug-treatment programs. Pennsylvania will pay more to contractors that help drive down the rate at which inmates wind up back in prison. If the rate rises, the payments could be cut or the contract canceled. The state had been paying $110 million a year to centers that largely failed, said corrections secretary John Wetzel. Pennsylvania’s strategy is virtually unheard of. “There’s no tradition in the field to incentivizing providers to produce better outcomes,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project.

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