Inmate total, reentry needs present a tough balancing act

There was a recent graduation ceremony for 30 people who have transitioned back into the community through Lycoming County’s reentry program.

That’s 30 success stories of people who ran afoul of the law and rectified themselves through the county’s reentry program to become contributing members of the local community.

That’s the way successful rehabilitation is supposed to look.

From the appearance of the latest county prison report, there needs to be an increase in the number of these stories.

The inmate numbers at the prison have been rising throughout the summer and the inmate count for October was 386.

President Judge Nancy L. Butts said a former worker’s presence in the re-entry program was a factor in the inmate increase.

It’s a delicate balance the county is trying to strike.

The re-entry program may not be the punishment that always fits the offense. People who deserve prison time should not be placed in the re-entry program.

At the same time, the county is trying to limit its prison population, saving costs.

And when the re-entry program works, it is the best outcome for the individual and certainly for the community.

The ultimate goal is no repeat offenders, a safer community and a prison necessary only for the most serious lawbreakers.

Even when prison numbers increase and execution of the reentry services is difficult, the end game is worth the strain and constant vigilance to the delicate balancing act.