It is not rocket science. You do not need a new committee to research ways how to reduce recidivism. The United States has 25% of the world’s inmates despite having only 5% of the world’s population. Twenty Five percent of the world’s inmates means 2.3 million individuals in the United States are waiting for trial or serving their sentences.
One of the major factors creating our huge inmates population is our high recidivism rate.
Approximately 60% of former inmates are re-arrested within 3 years of their release. Because of high recidivism, the United States will continue to have the most inmates in the world. We can reduce our high rate of recidivism, if jobs are provided for released returning citizens. If an individual has a job and a safe place to stay, the research data has shown it is unlikely that he or she will commit another crime.
For an example of an effective re-entry program, The Hay House, located in Tennessee, was founded in 1981 to help former inmates re-enter the community as responsible and productive citizens. The Hay House has a ninety percent success rate. Hay House Director, Dr. Chuck Walsh, stated that the Hay House, “Gives them a place to live, get treatment they need, medicine, get a job, pay their fines. It gives them at least a fighting chance.”Contrast the 10% recidivism rate of the Hay House with our 60% national recidivism rate.
The federal government should declare our mass incarceration a national emergency. The federal government should implement a program comparable to President Roosevelt’s Work Project Administration (WPA). This innovative depression program provided jobs to millions of unemployed Americans ( mostly unskilled workers). They carried out major public work projects including public buildings, roads, and bridges.
The federal government can employ released inmates repairing our deteriorating infrastructure of roads and bridges. This safety employment net would be available to released inmates for two years upon their release from prison. After 2 years, the former inmate would have a proven job record for new employment.
Before the naysayers scream about the horror of providing jobs to former inmates, they should consider the benefit to everyone. Within five years, we would reduce recidivism and have a safer and more productive society. The United States would finally lose its number one infamous rating for the world’s most inmates and prisons.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com