Study positive for county Day Reporting Center

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Franklin County is reaping significant benefits from its Day Reporting Center, according to a study released by county commissioners. Offenders referred to the DRC failed probation at less than one-third the 67 percent national rate and less than half the 48 percent rate of standard Franklin County probationers, according to the study.

The three-year study was commissioned by the Franklin County Criminal Justice Advisory Board, funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and conducted by James L. Jengeleski, Ed.D., and Michael S. Gordon, D.P.A, of Shippensburg University.

“County taxpayers should know we are protecting their public safety and fiscal interests,” Commissioner David Keller said. “We are pleased this study validates our efforts to reduce criminal behavior, enhance public safety and cut costs.”

Franklin County DRC Director Kimberly Eaton, Ph.D., said these results support previous reports that show the DRC reduces criminal activity, saves money, and helps the county keep its jail inmate count down, something few other counties nationwide can say. “The DRC has provided the judicial system with an alternative to incarceration that includes treatment not found anywhere else in the county.”

Researchers found probationers who completed the DRC program failed probation at a rate of 18.2 percent. In comparison, probationers referred to standard probation services and not the DRC program failed at a rate of 47.8 percent. National figures indicated two-thirds of probationers released to community supervision fail conditions of release, according to the study. The study reviewed adult probationers who completed the DRC program from Dec. 16, 2006 to June 1, 2009 and compared them to inmates released to probation from the jail in 2004. “It appears that the DRC has met the goals that we set by reducing jail days and recidivism rates.  That is a win-win combination,” Commissioner Robert Ziobrowski said.

The DRC has helped keep the jail count down too. As a result, the county leased jail beds to other jurisdictions, generating $970,285 for the county in 2010. The DRC costs $29 a day, less than half the cost of the jail, another source of savings.

“While very important, the value of the DRC cannot be measured in just dollars and cents. There is also the impact on families in our communities, which is priceless,” Commissioner Bob Thomas said.

The county opened the DRC in 2006 in an effort to reduce chronic jail overcrowding, reduce costs, and reduce criminal activity in the area. In recent years, Franklin County won awards from the National Association of Counties and County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania for reducing its jail population and implementing the DRC program.

President Judge Douglas Herman and Commissioner Chairman David Keller give credit for the DRC's success to the team involved. The team consists of DRC Director Dr. Kimberly Eaton, Warden John Wetzel, Adult Probation Chief Daniel Hoover, Adult Probation Officers and the DRC employees.

A copy of the study is on the county's website at: www.co.franklin.pa.us