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“Inmates are Coming”

Non Violent Inmates

In the celebrated series, “Game of Thrones,” it is whispered that “winter is coming.” Everyday in the United States, inmates are coming. According to the United States Department of Justice, 10,000 inmates are released every day and more than 650,000 inmates are returned to society every year. The United States Department of Justice states about Inmate’s Re-Entry:

“What can be done to help people who are released from prison keep from being rearrested? With no job, no money, and no place to live, returnees often find themselves facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place. Assisting ex-prisoners in finding and keeping employment, identifying transitional housing, and receiving mentoring are three key elements of successful re-entry into our communities.”

It is not rocket science. Without providing education, stable housing, employment, and mentoring, to returning citizens, our prisons will continue to suffer from a revolving door syndrome. A 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States indicated that more than 4 in 10 will return to prison within three years.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announced on Sunday, a plan, to offer college programs at ten state prisons. Immediately, there was an outcry against this program. The program will offer associate and bachelor degree education at 10 prisons, one in each region of the state. New York currently spends about $60,000 per year on each prisoner. Gov. Cuomo’s press release indicated it will cost approximately $5,000 per year to educate an inmate. Comments in newspapers and the internet ranged from ridicule to open hostility to providing education to inmates who qualify for this program. Opponents screamed that programs such as Gov. Cuomo’s– pamper inmates. They argue that society did not provide a free education to any of them. Without discussing the lack of basic, good education in our poorer communities, let us use our common sense.

Over 650,000 inmates, returning citizens, are released every year into communities throughout the United States. It is in all of our interests to provide education, stable housing, employment, and mentoring, to returning citizens, if we really want to reduce recidivism. Reduced recidivism translates into reduced crime, reduction of our overcrowded prisons, saving taxpayer’s monies, and a better society for all.  Inmates are coming – let us be ready!

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10 Responses to “Inmates are Coming”

  1. Ann February 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I agree with you, thanks for bringing attention to this issue! we need to help inmates and their families!

  2. Janet February 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    With education as with many other things in life an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Redemption is fundamental to the Western concept of justice. Just think of how many sinners there are in the New York legislature. I think in NY they are more likely to be removed in handcuffs themselves than lose an election so they should allow themselves to have the opportunity to take remedial ethics classes. In all seriousness Bradley I am with you on this. Gov. Andrew Cuomo should get this done.
    By Janet

  3. PrisonPath February 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    This is a story that needs to be publicized and shared more. In NYS, communities are feeling the affect of the Rockefeller Drug laws enacted 1973, that established mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession. The result was that many non-violent offenders received sentencing lengths that had previously been reserved for Capital Murder. “..by 1973, calls for stricter penalties had grown too loud to ignore, prompting Albany to enact legislation that created mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years to life for possession of four ounces of narcotics – about the same as a sentence for second-degree murder”

    A Brief History Of New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws – TIME

    Now many of those no-longer-in-their youth are being released after 10,20 years of incarceration. They have nowhere else to go except back to their old communities. Many of which are already struggling with availability of affordable housing, jobs and new generation involved in similar crimes. I have a halfway houses for Federal and State offenders within a mile of where I work. We also have at least two drug rehab clinics in those areas. NYS has a site Selection law which permits them to place the facilities wherever they choose after a period that allows the community to voice it’s concerns. Despite the process the facilities usually end up in the same locations. Just this week there is a request by the NYS legislature to provide more College degree programs for inmates. It is hard sell with taxpayers struggling to finance the college education of their own children and those who don’t have criminal records. In 1994, Congress passed a law making inmates ineligible for Pell Grants that help pay for college education.

    Program Services – Education (Academic) » NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

    In 1994, Congress passed a law making inmates ineligible for Pell Grants that help pay for college education.

    So the question remains, who will pay for this program
    By Daniel

  4. PrisonPath February 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    The information that Daniel has provided is very useful in analyzing the effectiveness of Gov. Cuomo’s proposal. He raises an essential question—funds for the program. This has to be weighed against the savings from lowering recidivism by returning citizens becoming productive members of society. It is hard to realize that it costs New York $60,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate.
    By Bradley

  5. PrisonPath February 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Agreed Bradley. What we left unsaid is that there was no ‘outrage’ at the mass incarceration of these young people in NYS with mandatory minimum sentencing (under the Rockefeller Drug Laws) until the inmates started to be no longer just from the inner cities and urban areas. Mandatory minimum sentencing eliminates the value of the resources of an inmates family. Can’t have that. In upstate NY the opiate/Heroin problem has gotten to the stage that suburban sheriffs and police now carry heroin overdose antidote ‘Narcon’. NOW it’s an epidemic worthy of attention and offering treatment instead of jail time… go figure.
    By Daniel

  6. PrisonPath February 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Yes, the above things are important, but education and skill training aren’t enough to change the person’s basic way of thinking. Such programs as Kairos provide an even more important need to inmates: a relationship with God! They are exposed to God’s Love and forgiveness for 3 days in a retreat-type setting. It’s a transformational experience! And there is a follow-up program with Kairos that helps solidify their new relationship with God and with each other. And this newfound way of life sets them ‘free’ on the inside as they serve the rest of their sentence, and will sustain them when they are released. And it doesn’t cost the government anything! Vaughn Wilson
    By Patricia

  7. PrisonPath February 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    We need to be about being about bringing more former inmates into Prison as Kairos volunteers and be about getting those that have made and or worked Kairos Weekends to take Active Part in Street Weekend!

    When I was Rector of Decolores 165 How my heart soul and mind would have loved to have had a brother who first took part inside the walls of our prison! If I had never made my Decolores Weekend I would have never had anything to do with Prison Ministry!

    Michigan Keryx Prison Ministry Carson City Prison we just had our 1st Returned Citizen Work as a Volunteer What A Blessing From God What A Blessing!

    If any of you brothers and sisters ever are in Grand Rapids, MI. On a Thursday?

    I would be very honored if you would come and take part in C.LE.A.R.

    Bill Dykstra
    616 821 9520
    By William Dykstra

  8. PrisonPath February 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    I am a former inmate and would be glad to go back in to minister not those who are currently incarcerated.
    By Kelly


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