In Pennsylvania there are approximately 51,512 inmates in the state correctional institutions (Commonwealth of PA Corrections 2013 Annual Statistical Report). Philadelphia has the highest incarceration rate of all of the Pennsylvania Counties.
Consider the following statistics:
⦁ Over 90% of incarcerated individuals will be released at some point
⦁ More than half of all people leaving prison or on probation are unemployed
⦁ Over 60% will be rearrested within three years after their release
The prescription for reducing recidivism is simple in theory, though it is complex in practice. It involves helping ex-offenders become self-sufficient, the key to which is employment. Yet, for a majority of those with a felony record, job opportunities are scarce. The results of this are devastating. For example, The New York Department of Labor found that 83% of offenders who violated probation or parole were unemployed at the time.
Steady employment provides much more than a paycheck. It bolsters ex-offenders’ work experience and teaches much needed skills, as well as keeping them from returning to the informal economy that got many of them incarcerated in the first place. In building up their training and work history, ex-offenders stand the best chance of successfully reintegrating into society and living a satisfying and crime-free life.
It costs the state of Pennsylvania an average of $37,267 per inmate per year. Successfully reducing the recidivism rate even modestly would result in a savings of potentially millions of dollars to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania – funds that could go to the improvement of our schools, the rebuilding of our infrastructure and the improvement of healthcare.