Research on Rural Pennsylvania Jails Published
A research article by Jeremiah C. Gee, assessment coordinator in Pennsylvania College of Technology's School of Integrated Studies, was published in the September/October 2007 issue of American Jails magazine, the official publication of the American Jail Association.
Gee's article, titled "Past, Present, and Future Programming in Rural Jails: A Snapshot of Pennsylvania," is the first known attempt at painting a comprehensive picture of correctional education in rural county jails across Pennsylvania. It assesses the extent of current jail programming managed by the wardens who participated in the survey. Half of Pennsylvania's rural county wardens were surveyed.
The article highlights the need for a sustainable community effort to respond to the unique needs found in rural counties. Due to high turnover rates in county-level facilities, "(continued) community involvement is crucial for successful re-entry to society, as many inmates have barely made their exit due to short lengths of stay," Gee wrote.
The study calls for community-based programming that "follows" offenders from the outside to the inside and back again, so that perpetual behavioral and life-pattern changes can be fostered, rather than a temporary interruption in behavior cycles while in prison.
"Without high levels of pre- and post-release community-based involvement, it is impractical to believe that recidivism in small communities will decline," Gee wrote.
The study also calls for more research geared toward understanding the impact of correctional programming in rural county facilities. It uncovered a wide range of programming in rural county facilities, but noted specific needs for transition and re-entry programs, programs tailored to individuals' needs, and coordination between programs and facilities.
"Wardens were very open toward both the current research project and the possibility of having more programs that better suit their populations' needs," Gee said. "They serve in a difficult position, in that they see profound needs on a daily basis but have little resources to meet such needs."
Gee works at a local county prison through a grant administered through Mansfield University's Center for Lifelong Learning. The article is drawn from his master's thesis, which researched the needs and opportunities available to inmates in rural county correctional facilities.
Gee earned a master's degree in education from Mansfield University and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Nyack College Manhattan Center. He is currently a doctoral student in The Pennsylvania State University's adult education program.