When at first you don’t succeed...
|by Faith Schwartz|
Just a few days ago a new study was released entitled Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America's Prison Population 2007-2011. Honestly, the results came as no surprise: the U.S. prison population is on the rise. No, really? We've been hounded by rising statistics for years now, but this report helped put the grim news into perspective with a price tag.
Please expect an additional 27.5 billion dollars to be spent on accomodating our growing population in the next five years.
Sincerely, The Management
While many sit stunned with their mouths open, others ask the ever more burning question: why?
Perhaps the biggest factor is the poor preparation provided to inmates who are on their way out the prison gates. In fact, of the 650,000 individuals released this year, over 66% will be back in prison within 3 years. Here comes the looming question ... why?
As my previous post and this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out, the assistance available for an inmate who has paid his or her dues and seeks to return to society as a productive citizen is almost nil. And once they get out, society certainly doesn't rush to help them. But does this make sense to you?
Personally I'd like to see my tax dollars going to successful reentry programming and job assistance, rather than $20,000-$60,000 or more being spent to keep a person alive in a cell for a year. But hey, maybe that's just me.
Did you ever hear of a piece of bi-partisian legislation called the Second Chance Act of 2005? Well, this bill attempted to fix part of the problem by paving a way for successful reentry programs and other reentry assistance. Although the bill failed to pass this past Congressional session (due to the actions of only one Senator), its clone is set to be introduced in the next week or two: the Second Chance Act of 2007. Keep your ears open for that one and be sure to urge your respresentatives to support such a great bill!
Now all that's left is to talk society into offering ex-offenders a helping hand. Are you ready to give them a second chance? Or are you content to sit and throw more money, your money, at the problem? What should we do?