Dauphin County tops state with repeat offenders

Shackled hands struggled to shield his face as Clarence Shaffer shuffled to a squad car exiting a preliminary hearing Friday afternoon. Dressed in a green jumpsuit, the convicted criminal stayed silent on his trip back to “home,” as he once called it.

If the name rings a bell, it should. The 52-year-old took police on a wild manhunt after authorities said he committed heinous crimes against an 18-year-old HACC student in early December. Shaffer even told abc27, “I want to go back to prison because that's the only thing I have.”

Steelton bookstore owner Michael Nebroski said he too became a victim of Shaffer last fall. Nebroski said despite a lack of references, he tried to help Shaffer back on his feet after his release from jail. Nebroski said he gave Shaffer housing and a job. Later, Nebroski said Shaffer's criminal side came out.

Court records show Shaffer was charged with burglary and vandalism inside Nebroski's bookstore.

“All the grief that Clarence Shaffer has created for me, my insurance company, the police the victims,” Nebroski said, “my feeling is if he gets out of prison, he'll do the same thing instantaneously.”

Shaffer has become a notorious repeat offender and what prosecutors call a “career criminal.”

A new report on recidivism, or repeat criminal offenders, was released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Dauphin County had the highest overall recidivism rate with 67 percent.

The study looked at data over a three-year period from 2006 to 2008. According to the report, Dauphin County released 1,739 convicted criminals from state prison back on the streets over that time period. According to the report, 1,171 criminals went back into prison.

The numbers grabbed the attention of Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.

“The numbers did not surprise me,” said Marsico. “I'm disappointed that Dauphin County leads the state in its recidivism rate.”

Marsico pointed to the county's relatively low population versus the high crimes rates within Harrisburg city limits. He explained that could skew the rates. However, he does acknowledge improvements need to be made in rehabilitating first time offenders.

“We solve the crimes, we punish the offenders. We have to work better on rehabilitating them and correcting their behavior so when they're back on the streets so they're not back in prison,” he said.

So people like Nebroski and others do not become a victim of repeat offenders.

“I don't understand why someone is like that,” said Nebroski. “I've gotten rid of the anger and I just have compassion for him.”

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