Reentry Program: The Solution to Recidivism by Siqin Wang

Reentry Program: the Solution to Recidivism?

The problem posed by inmates being released from prison has been a continuing concern throughout the United States. The explosion in incarceration over the last two decades directly causes the situation that we are facing today— more released inmates than the rehabilitation programs can ever hope to be able to handle.[1] The largest study of recidivism conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that an estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison.[2] Three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years.[3] The ex-offender population has tended to recidivate due in part to an unavailability of economic and social supports.[4] Concerns about stopping the “cycle of crime” leads us to consider addressing this issue through reentry and devise plans to successfully reintegration of ex-offenders into society.[5]

Given this incredibly high recidivism rate, successful prisoner reentry is of the utmost importance in unraveling this crisis.[6] The re-entry program could provide training course including educational and vocational training, employment, mentoring, counseling, mental and physical health care, substance abuse treatment, faith-based services, legal services, and housing assistance.[7] After realizing the importance of re-entry program to the ex-offenders rehabilitation and also community’s safety, Oregon lawmakers in 2013 set aside $58 million for counties to provide services that keep people from returning to jail or prison.[8] Recently, Washington County announced that it will expand services the help ex-offender adjust to life outside jail or prison.[9] The agency promised they would provide safe housing which is desperately needed for released prisoners.[10]  The program will also help with placing former inmates into jobs that pay slightly more than Oregon’s current minimum wage of $9.25 per hour — and extra help to ensure that most of them stay employed.[11]

Among those rehabilitation programs, the vocational training programs are especially important because of their potential to bring considerable amount of skilled labor to the workforce. Local companies and corporations should be encouraged to invest a certain amount of their net benefit in programs which will provide the inmates with certain skills that the corporations consider valuable.[12]  Employment will help ease the problem of recidivism for lack of economic support.[13]  This system of cooperation between re-entry program and local companies in Alabama will substantially benefit the prisoners released from jail or prison as well as local manufacturers. In Alabama, manufacturing plants are expanding, and new suppliers are establishing operations and the industry’s workforce is growing across the state.[14] For example, Toyota’s expansion at its Huntsville engine plant created 125 jobs, pushing the total workforce there to 1,200.[15] Other manufacturers like Honda and Hyundai are also adding jobs and taking steps to boost output at their assembly lines.[16] With the boost of the job market, the inmates with vocational trainings are highly needed for the manufacture industry. Trained to be able to conduct job in these plants, those ex-offenders are the answer to the lack of labor force due to the competition in business. The re-entry program will not only benefit those released prisoners to start a new life with a stable job, but also boost the local economy.

[1] U.S. state and federal correctional facilities held an estimated 1,574,700 prisoners on December 31, 2013, an increase of 4,300 prisoners from year-end 2012. E. Ann Carson, National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) Program, Bureau of Justice Special Report: Prisoners In 2013, at 2 (1989), available at http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5109.

[2] The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced the Data on recidivism, available at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rprts05p0510pr.cfm

[3] Id.

[4] Anthony C. Thompson, Navigating the Hidden Obstacles to Ex-Offender Reentry, 45 B.C. L. Rev. 255, 259 (2004)

[5] Id.

[6] Eumi K. Lee, The Centerpiece to Real Reform? Political, Legal, and Social Barriers to Reentry in California, 7 Hastings Race & Poverty L. J. 243, 244 (2010)

[7] Daniel M. Fetsco, Reentry Courts: An Emerging Use of Judicial Resources in the Struggle to Reduce the Recidivism of Released Offenders, 13 Wyo. L. Rev. 591, 600 (2013).

[8] Id.

[9] Peter Wong, Washington County re-entry program set to get staffing boost, Portland Tribune, (Sept. 10 2015), http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/272483-148133-washington-county-re-entry-program-set-to-get-staffing-boost.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Corrections Corp. Of America, CCH Federal Securities Law Reporter (Feb. 2, 2015), 2015 WL 783296.

[13] See id.

[14] Alabama’s Auto Manufacturing Industry Adding Investment, Jobs And Vehicles After Record Year, Alabama Department of Commerce, available at http://www.madeinalabama.com/2013/02/alabama-auto-manufacturing-industry-growing/.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

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