From Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Advocacy and Reform:
The probation, parole, & reentry committee report & recommendations by Christi Smith, Ph.D., Chair
This report summarizes the findings and recommendation of the CJAT Probation, Parole, and Reentry Committee (PPRC) to create a trauma-informed probation, parole, and reentry system in Pennsylvania.
A. Background: The Need for Trauma-Informed Probation, Parole and Reentry in Pennsylvania
It is no secret that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with high rates being influenced by the inability of justice-involved individuals to successfully participate in or rejoin society (Prison Policy Initiative, 2022). After release from prison, often, justice involved individuals who do not have or receive the tools to be a successful participant in society, recidivate or commit another crime or crimes. Currently, Pennsylvania has the ninth highest recidivism rate in the United States (World Population Review, 2022).
As of December 31, 2019, Pennsylvania required over a quarter-million justice involved individuals to participate in the Community Corrections System; that is 172,052 classified under probation and 105,938 classified under parole. The number of individuals on Probation or Parole is only expected to increase as societal focus has shifted “to a rehabilitative philosophy and an acceptance of evidence-based practices.”
As thousands of individuals are dependent, and will be dependent, upon Pennsylvania’s Probation and Parole system to assist them in successful societal integration, the need for this system to be universally trauma-informed is great.
Trauma produces cognitive brain changes that influence a person’s responses to everyday stressors and interactions; individuals who experience trauma are more likely than the general population to experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and to criminally offend. Research demonstrates that not only is trauma related to pre-incarceration behavior (offending behavior), but also post-incarceration behavior. Those who are incarcerated have a higher likelihood of experiencing psychological and physical trauma related to direct and indirect violence and assault, environmental and isolation trauma, and more. Therefore, as those who are on parole and have previously experienced incarceration, programming to combat PTSD-related symptomatology that is linked to prison-exposure is essential to help people successfully reintegrate to their communities and homes. Trauma-informed methodologies have the potential to dramatically improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and save tax-payer dollars by helping people to stop cycling through our judicial system. It has been the mission and vision of the Probation, Parole and Reentry Committee (PPRC) to identify the ways in which trauma can be prevented and mitigated for: (1) persons under community supervision; (2) for the officers that monitor and assist them, and (3) for all of the individuals and agencies that interact with probation, parole and reentry professionals in Pennsylvania.
Read the full report here.