Keep minds open on day reporting center for city

According to a Pew Center research project, of 8,750 inmates released from Pennsylvania prisons in 2004, almost most 40 percent were reincarcerated by 2007.

That seems to justify the recent statement by Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts that “We can’t just put people in jail and expect them to come out and be different.”

And that is part of the point behind a proposal that has been floated for a day reporting center in Williamsport.

Besides reducing the number of bodies in the county’s overcrowded prison, a day reporting center typically offers classes that treat unhealthy behaviors, substance abuse, anger management, GED prep and employment and life skills. All of those things help reduce the discouraging percentage of recidivism.

Plans for a day reporting center in Williamsport have met resistance, particularly from Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

Looking to educate themselves, Councilwoman Bonnie Katz and Councilman Randall J. Allison visited a day reporting center in Luzerne County recently.

They both returned impressed.

Councilwoman Katz said it turned her from an opponent to a proponent of such a center in Williamsport.

Councilman Allison said there is “more homework to do” on the issue, but he clearly had his mind opened to the idea during the trip.

We appreciate their conscientious in trying to find out all they can before voting on something.

And open minds are the only path to a solution to the county’s prison problem.

A new, larger prison is expensive. Sending inmates from this county to other counties is also expensive.

There’s not a lot of proof that just putting people in prisons makes all of them more productive and law-abiding citizens who don’t return once they get out.

Clearly, incarceration alternatives that can get better results, cut costs, reduce the prison population and still maintain public safety must be considered.

Simply raising blanket objections at sincere attempts to find a practical solution won’t advance us toward a solution.