A new National Institute of Justice report by Philip Bulman casts a pall on the high expectations that Day Reporting Centers in New Jersey would aid in reducing recidivism and help parolees in successfully transitioning back into the community.
Day Centers typically require parolees to attend programs at the Center for at least 90 days, according to “An Evaluation of Day Reporting Centers for Parolees,” which appeared this year in Criminology & Public Policy, Volume 12, Issue 1. All activities at a Day Center are supervised, and random drug testing is a key part of the program. Day Centers were developed during the national push to provide alternatives to incarceration. Releasing an inmate from prison and mandating that he or she report daily to a Day Center was expected to reduce overcrowding in prisons and provide parolees with skills and resources that would keep them from committing future crimes.
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Bulman found that the often privately run Centers fell short of their goals:
During the longer term (between one year and 18 months after the initial study), men in the day reporting centers were 67 percent less likely to get jobs than their counterparts on traditional parole. Women in the day reporting centers were 92 percent less likely to get jobs than their counterparts
The time to first rearrest (a measure of recidivism) for men was not significantly different for participants in the day reporting center compared to those on traditional parole. The cumulative failure rates of the two groups were not significantly different.
Parolees can be supervised at a lower cost using traditional parole than the day reporting center model.