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New Disciplinary Program for Drug Offenders Shows Significant Decline in Re-Arrest Rates


Harrisburg PA – A preliminary study shows a pilot disciplinary program aimed at non-violent drug offenders is lowering the probability that an inmate will be rearrested upon release.
Working with researchers at Drexel University, the Department of Corrections last year developed and implemented a new program, known as SIP-HOPE, within the State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) program at two Community Corrections Centers (CCCs).
“The results of this study show an impressive 13 percent reduction in re-arrests among SIP-HOPE participants,” said Bret Bucklen, director of research and planning for DOC. “Further, SIP-HOPE participants spent fewer days in prison or jail, demonstrating the ability of this approach to not only reduce crime but also to reduce the use of costly prison beds.”
Bucklen said the results are in line with much of the accumulated evidence from more than a dozen other states showing the effectiveness of the swift, certain, and fair (SCF) supervision approach. 
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the SCF supervision model is a leading evidence-based model for improving public safety within community-based corrections,” he said.
“We are working aggressively and strategically to reduce future criminality of individuals in our charge,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “These results point to the fact that this new approach is showing positive outcomes.”
SIP is a 24-month structured sentence for non-violent drug offenders incorporating inpatient and outpatient drug treatment. Participants reside in the CCCs, for the latter potion of the sentence.
Using guidelines established by Project HOPE, (Hawaii Opportunity Probation Experiment) the inmates were given clear rules, including a ban on alcohol and illicit drugs that were prominently displayed on posters in the CCCs. The SIP-HOPE participants were given breathalyzers each time they entered the CCCs and were subject to random drug testing.
When an individual was found to have violated the SIP-HOPE protocol the response was immediate. First time violators received 24 hours in prison. Those committing subsequent offenses saw increased time in prison or potentially expulsion from the SIP program.
Once sanctions were completed, inmates were permitted to resume all programming as if no violation had occurred and at all times participants were informed that addiction treatment was available.
The SIP-HOPE pilot was implemented at CCC Scranton (Lackawanna County) and CCC Riverside (Allegheny County) between September 2015 and September 2016, with follow up to chart recidivism.
The DOC is planning to expand SIP-HOPE to additional Community Corrections Centers.
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