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Parole Chief: Longer Prison Terms Not Reducing Crime

Chief Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Officer Sean Ryan says the cost of corrections in the U.S. went from $12 billion a year to $52 billion over 20 years, suggesting strongly that longer and longer prison terms are not reducing crime.

He says Pennsylvania is participating in a Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which uses evidence-based practices focused on individual issues that put people in a position to commit crimes.

“It might be substance abuse, mental health issues, a combination of those, inability to obtain employment due to a lack of skills.  It might be as simple as attitude types of adjustments.”

He says different offenders present different challenges.

“We talk about rehabilitation, but some of the people have never been habilitated from the beginning, so for some you’re starting from scratch.”

Ryan says many inmates are released from prison unprepared to return to society, and they end up back behind bars as repeat offenders.  He says that’s very costly, not only in dollars but also in a higher crime rate.

He appeared Wednesday on the WNPV talk program Legally Speaking.

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