Pennsylvania Prisons and Jails

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The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections oversees the well functioning of 26 state correctional facilities, 14 community correction centers, 40 contract facilities, one motivational boot camp and one training academy. There are more than 16,000 employees working within all of these facilities and they are responsible for the withholding, protection and correction of more than 51,000 inmates.

The county prisons in the State of Pennsylvania are not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections. The parole department is being governed by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Also, the PA state prison system is officially accredited by the American Correctional Association. The mission of the state prison is to reduce criminal behavior by providing accurate treatment and education to all offenders. Its mission also refers to succeeding in properly reintegrating offenders into the community using accountability and positive change.
The Community Corrections Department is currently involved in the maintenance of the residential facilities that are placed in PA communities. These half-way houses are able to create a successful transitional process via the monitoring of inmates and their connection with jobs and educational opportunities. These half-way houses host inmates in pre-release status and those who are granted parole by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. The contracting of specialized treatment and supervision services offered by private vendors also falls to the responsibility of this department.

Inmates are also offered vocational training and building of work experience through the Correctional Industries Department. This bureau is part of the PA DOC, and its mission is to reduce inmate idleness while they are being incarcerated, as well as to assist with re-entry of the inmate and to reduce in recidivism. Inmates normally discover the work skills they need to identify and maintain meaningful employment. This bureau does not have the support of the state general fund, but it is rather financially self supporting. The sale of its products to Commonwealth agencies or public entities and educational or nonprofit companies is the main source of income.

The Department of Education is the entity responsible for the accurate management, monitoring and assisting of educational and vocational processes in state prisons. It also keeps a close eye on library services offered to inmates in PA. The bureau offers inmates the chance to get the basic skill instruction they need so they can get a GED or even a Commonwealth secondary diploma.

The Health Care Bureau supervises and monitors medical and dental care service, as well as food service operations. All of these services need to and are provided at the community standards’ level. The use of quality improvement processes and networking with support services are both helping this bureau successfully reach its mission.

The Treatment Services is a bureau that focuses on the management and monitoring of PA state correctional facilities in the evaluation of inmate needs. Also, it is a bureau that handles treatment programs for inmates: volunteers, religion, family services, casework, counseling programs, alcohol and substance abuse treatment services, mental health care pardons services, inmate classifi­cation, and risk or need assessment and even diagnostic and classification processes. All state prisons in Pennsylvania host standard services and programs such as alcohol and drug addiction, sexual offenses, violence prevention, criminal thinking, domestic violence and many more.

The Training Academy supervises the training of the department’s staff. It also creates and implements pre-service, in-service and out-service training for all of the employees of the department. State and county employees equally receive the same training. Basic-level training and instructor or specialized courses are all available. The hosting of conferences and seminars that are sponsored by other public Commonwealth agencies is also possible. Every year, more than 6,000 state and county employees are being trained in more than 250 courses.

For more information about Pennsylvania prisons and jails, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ website at: http://www.cor.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx#.WM-vhfmGOUk.