For-Profit Prisons Get another Bite of the Apple
May 8, 2013 New Jersey law mandates that only non-profit entities can provide contract services for its Department of Corrections. To get around this law, for-profit prison corporation, CommunityEducation, Inc., created a non-profit subsidiary to run New Jersey's reentry program, reportedlymanaged by the same executives of the for-profit company
.Housing having become the war cry for reentry, community demand for halfway houseshas driven the appeal. The results, however, indicate that our nation's halfway houses have become breeding grounds for crime.
Operating in Isolation:
Departments of Corrections are notorious for operating in isolation. The easiest way todefer accountability to an increasingly skeptical public is to contract out services and therebyresponsibilities. Medical and mental health services are commonly outsourced. Private for-profit prisons have become big business.Reentry services, currently a hot-button federal initiative, offers a natural niche for halfway house conglomerates. Departments of correction can defer mandated services theyotherwise are unable adequately to provide.
Shadow Corrections Network:
A New York Times investigation reported that New Jersey's halfway house conglomeratehad "...mutated into a shadow corrections network, where drugs, gang activity and violence,including sexual assaults, often go unchecked..."
Worse still, the report indicated that halfwayhouses may be yielding a higher recidivism rate than that experienced in traditional release plans.Likewise, a recent Pennsylvania study has concluded that individuals who spend time inhalfway houses are more likely to return to a life of crime than those released directly to thestreets.
Pennsylvania currently contracts out 38 halfway houses, with 4,500 beds, at an annualcost of $110M. Community Education, Inc., is the largest provider of those services.
Cheaper but Not Better:
The system, designed for ease of transition from incarceration to society, has beeneffective as a safety valve for overcrowded prisons at around two-thirds the per-bed cost.Recidivism rates for those released from PA halfway houses was reported at 67% within the firstthree years, as opposed to 60% of those released from prison to the streets.
Considering the parole and probation violations and re-offenses that are never made of record, it is clear that both public and private attempts to rehabilitate offenders are failing miserably.There is at least one exception.
Rethinking Government Contracts for Prisons
As Escapees Stream Out, a Penal Business Thrives
Tom Corbett, Gov. & John Wetzel, Secretary, "Pennsylvania Department of Corrections: Recidivism Report 2013",Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 02/08/2013.
Pennsylvania Study Finds Halfway Houses Don't Reduce Recidivism