The New York Times calls the study "groundbreaking" and "startling": Inmates who stayed at one of the halfway houses on which Pennsylvania spends $110 million a year had an increased chance of committing another crime. The study, conducted by the Pennsylvania Corrections Department, found that 60% of inmates released directly to the street in 2008-2009 were rearrested or back in prison within three years; among those sent to a halfway house, the figure was 67%.
And while the study is Pennsylvania-minded, it has broad implications, reports the Times: Both the feds and individual states have spent billions on these halfway houses, many privately run, in an attempt to slice prison costs. It's generally a third cheaper to put an inmate up at one toward the end of his sentence, and inmates are supposed to have access to things like job training and therapy there. The state's corrections chief says he thinks some of the houses may not be delivering on those promised services; a rep for the state's biggest halfway house provider says inmates in this population are watched more carefully, and therefore less likely to get away with committing another crime. (Read more crime stories.)