About Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) is a governmental entity in Pennsylvania that is responsible for the detention, treatment, and rehabilitation of state offenders. Currently, there are about 37,000 offenders in the state correctional institutions. The operation of these facilities is under the sponsorship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Department has its headquarters in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, in the Greater Harrisburg area.
State correctional institutions are currently 23, with one additional motivational boot camp and one central training academy. Moreover, there are other fourteen Community Corrections Centers. The Department of Corrections also contracts with approximately 40 contractors throughout the state for transitional services provision.
Inmate Intake Process
New male inmates at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) undergo processing and classification via the Diagnostic and Classification Center (DCC). This center is located at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Camp Hill in Cumberland County. On the other hand, female convicts' processing takes place at SCI Muncy, in Lycoming County.
This categorization procedure might take time, from a few weeks to many months, for each offender. Furthermore, the method assesses a person's particular health-care requirements, psychological needs, treatment programming needs, and various other factors. Additionally, inmates receive their SCI security level through this procedure.
Inmate Treatment Programs
The Department of Corrections (DOC) provides a variety of programs to meet the therapeutic requirements of inmates. The many SCI programs that are available are described in detail:
Non-AOD Programs (Standardized Treatment Programs)
This kind of program is available to SCI convicts whose assessment classifies them as moderate to high risk. It is recommended for those offenders who have a history of domestic abuse or violent conduct. Initial detection for inmates who have to partake in the program happens during admission at the Diagnostic and Classification Center. These detainees must accept and follow the program's requirements. Failure to engage in the program or follow its guidelines will result in disciplinary action such as including the details in an inmate's file, which will affect his/her parole eligibility.
Thinking for a Change Program
This program is a 25-session program that employs cognitive restructuring and social skills treatments as techniques when modifying criminal thinking. This group's goal is to assist convicts who have inadequate decision-making abilities in the areas of cognitive self-change, social skills improvement, and problem-solving skills acquisition. Moreover, this program has several sessions. Each session aims to address communication skills, thought processes, emotional interpretations, and problem resolution. Although present in all sessions, the thought processes segments serve as the foundation for the cognitive-behavioral techniques. This program is available twice a week.
Violence Prevention Program
The Violence Prevention (VP) Program addresses the requirements of violent prisoners as part of the Violent Offender Initiative. The initiative also includes the implementation of the Offender Violence Risk Typology (OVRT).
This program teaches offenders how to deal with their impulses toward violence by teaching them suitable coping mechanisms and abilities.
The VP Program applies various techniques such as modeling, role acting, and tabletop exercises to reach this goal, as well as in-cell tasks. Further, there are two levels of intensity in terms of violence prevention. Each level allows for a possibility to address convicts' particular treatment requirements more precisely. Inmates can also access a violence prevention program available in the community, administered by employees from community corrections or parole field supervision.
Recently, there has been a proposition for assigning inmates various severity levels of the updated VP in accordance with a mix of variables. This may include RST score, PAI score, OVRT category, AGG score, immediate violence, and violent past. Notably, this program does not address abusive behavior that occurs in intimate partnerships.
DOC's Voluntary Programs
These are optional programs for convicts. They are often only available once every three months. An example of such a program is the Long Term Offender Program.
Long Term Offender Program
Inmates serving life sentences or sentences with a minimum expiry date of 10 years or more can participate in this program. The target audience consists of convicts who are in their first 2-4 years in prison. The program's primary objectives are to address adjustment concerns and techniques to make the most of one's jail experience. However, inmates outside this timeframe may also participate in the program but still fulfill the minimum expiry criterion.
Inmate Community Reentry
The goal of parole supervision is to strike a balance between enforcement tasks and problem-solving case management. This is necessary to prevent recidivism among those on parole. Parole conditions are important because:
- They ensure that parolees get the appropriate level of care throughout their lives.
- They address higher-risk concerns.
- They provide structure and supervision for them throughout their transitional time.
Parole officials work with offenders to assist them in preparing for life in the community upon sentence completion. Additionally, the parole agents assist parolees with any requirement in the areas of:
- Job training and employment skills.
- Referrals for treatment of mental/physical illnesses.
- Referrals to drug and alcohol treatment programs.
- Cognitive-behavioral life skills classes.
Reentry and Transition Services
It is a critical part of the Department of Corrections' mission to prepare inmates for successful community reentry. The preparation process is necessary to assist them in becoming law-abiding citizens and obtaining life-sustaining employment after their release. The Department of Corrections (DOC) is advancing its work in the area of reentry with the establishment of Regional Reentry Administrators (RRAs).
The major objective of RRAs is to serve as a link between institutions and community corrections. This link is important to smoothen the transfer to the community via parole and the implementation of an authorized release plan. Additionally, the programs coordinate systematic and concrete reentry policies throughout the Department to reduce the likelihood of recidivism and increase public safety.
There are other Department of Corrections departments and agencies that assist institutions in preparing inmates for release. These include treatment services, educational and vocational training, mental health management, reentry, and transitional services, population management, and community corrections. The reentry process happens via local and state-wide collaborations, with a strong commitment to victim advocacy.
Pennsylvania DOC Parole Authority
The Board of paroles has paroling power over sentences with a maximum duration of two years or more. Parole for sentences below two years is the responsibility of the county jails as such a sentence is under a county government.
However, parole is just a privilege but not a right. As such, parole decisions in Pennsylvania are not susceptible to court reviews. However, a prisoner may make a constitutional challenge to the denial of parole or seek an order of mandamus to force the Board to use its discretion. Prisoners serving life sentences or death sentences are not eligible for parole.
Interstate Probation and Parole
Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) refers to an understanding between all the states, the United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. It governs how and when states can transfer supervision authority over probation and parole of adult offenders across state borders. The ICAOS guidelines describe the requirements that must be met to permit an interstate transfer. In most cases, offenders must provide a compelling cause for the movement of their probation or parole monitoring to another state or jurisdiction.
Furthermore, applications must show that the suggested plan in the receiving state is where they are most likely to succeed under supervision. This can be justified by demonstrating the availability of stability elements such as reconnecting families and obtaining a meaningful job in the receiving state. Both state-sentenced criminals and county probationers are eligible for transfer, albeit there are certain restrictions on their eligibility.
Pennsylvania DOC Inmate Search Process
The state prisoner lookup tool offers information on each inmate presently under the authority of the Department of Corrections. It gives information on inmates and parolees based on the locator a person chooses. Moreover, the Digital Photo Upload System will enable users to upload images utilizing this tool. The DOC Offender Locator tool is also valuable as the public can access details on where an inmate is housed, the inmate's race, date of birth, and other details.
Furthermore, this website allows access to details on offenders on parole or probation. This information is made available through the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation.
The DOC and the Board of Parole provide the following inmate details exclusively:
- Prisoner or parole number.
- Institutional assignment.
- County of residence or committing county.
Any other information on the website is from third parties; hence the accurateness of the data is not independently verified.
The DOC Inmate Search Process
Individuals can access the offender search website through this link. Searchers can either check the inmate locator option or the parolee locator search box. The site enables people to search for inmates using their names, inmate number or parole number, committing county, and current location. The results of the search usually have an inmate's mugshot, personal details, and physical description, among many other details.