$3 million saved in operational costs annually

Chambersburg (Franklin County)

Challenge

In the last two decades, Franklin County experienced population growth and increased crime. The population growth led to chronic jail overcrowding at the 194-bed Franklin County Prison, with counts surging as high as 400 inmates in 2003. A national jail planner estimated Franklin County would need at least 600 beds at a cost of $40 million. Franklin County officials sought evidence-based alternatives to alleviate jail crowding and address the underlying issues contributing to the problem.

Solution

Franklin County decided to modify its criminal justice system by building a 468-bed new jail facility, but in conjunction with opening a community-based reentry service center in Chambersburg with cognitive behavioral treatment and evidence-based programs in April 2006. The county selected GEO Reentry Services to open the center, and GEO Reentry continues to manage the program. Adding the center allowed the county to build the jail facility at a cost of only $30 million (savings of $10 million).

Results

By adding the reentry service center, the county built a smaller jail, saving the county $10 million in construction costs and more than $3 million annually in operational costs. By diverting reentrants to the center rather than jails, the county saved more than $2 million. Since the center opened in 2006, the jail population has remained below 400 inmates – a level the old, smaller jail had housed. Additionally, the average length of stay in jail has decreased significantly. In 2012 the county had enough extra jail capacity to lease to other jurisdictions, including U.S. Marshalls and nearby Fulton County, generating more than $800,000 in revenue.

Since it opened in 2006, the RSC has managed more than 100 reentrants at a time. The criminogenic risk of individuals in the program has significantly decreased from an LSI-R® risk score of 21.5 to 18.1. The recidivism rate has also decreased. Between 2006 and 2009, program graduates recidivated at a rate of 18.2 percent compared to a national recidivism rate of approximately 67 percent. The county crime rate has also dropped from 75 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2006 to 55 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2008, even while the statewide crime rate increased during that timeframe.

New programs at the RSC have been implemented to help high-risk populations overcome challenges to success. In the Jail Diversion Program, a specially-trained case manager assists reentrants with mental health issues, a population that had been struggling in the program. This case manager helps stabilize their mental health with proper medication and additional counseling. Individuals in the Jail Diversion Program are among the center’s most successful graduates, achieving awards for perfect attendance, cooperation and willingness to help others, and respecting and following rules.

After finding many reentrants with a history of narcotics abuse who were referred to the center were struggling to remain compliant, a Medication Assisted Treatment Program was incorporated. This program was set up by jail administration and Program Director Kim Eaton. Now, almost eight of 10 RSC clients with a history of narcotics addiction successfully complete the program.

Chambersburg (Franklin County)