Without the assistance of local,
state and federal government, businesses, corporations, and foundations
increasing their funding and availability of programs and services these
sources, more and more community based re-entry programs will close. And where will the ex-offender go?
Bottom line is this:Would you
rather increase the number of prison re-entry programs for ex-offenders or
would you rather the ex-offender drift in your community and you could be the
Collaboration is defined as:
Working together to achieve
a common goal that is difficult or impossible to reach without the assistance of
In the United States, one out of every 295 residents was
behind bars in 2014 -- a level of imprisonment shared only by Russia, among
Western nations. "We have nine percent of the world's population, and 35
percent of the world's prisoners," notes Vincent Schiraldi, president of
the Justice Policy Institute, a research and advocacy organization.
are disproportionately black and Hispanic, and are mostly young and male. An
estimated 15 percent of African-American men, 9 percent of Hispanic men, and
1.8 percent of white men in their 20s and early 30s were incarcerated in 2014.
Men are more than 10 times as likely to be imprisoned as
women, but the female incarceration rate has been growing faster than the male
rate. About 266,000 women were in prisons or jails in 2014.
The dramatic growth in incarceration has been part of a
"get-tough" approach to crime that also has led to less sentencing
flexibility and more emphasis on punishment than rehabilitation.
Whether or not
this approach has been a success is a matter of continuing debate. Supporters
point to generally falling rates of violent crime in the 1990s. Opponents point
to higher rates of recidivism among offenders after release.
Since many of the complex
barriers offenders face are beyond the expertise (and resources) of most
individual corrections agencies – including housing issues, employment
barriers, educational needs, mental health problems, financial instability,
social stigma, and family reunification – it is clear that a well-planned and
collaborative response from a diverse set of agencies and individuals is
necessary if successful offender reentry is to be achieved.
Society Issues The growth in the
number of offenders incarcerated and under community supervision, as wellas the failure rate
for offenders released from prison, has placed a tremendous burden on the criminal
Approximately 700,000 offenders are released annually and more
than half will return to prison within three years. Many will be rearrested
within the first six months after release. In the United States,
the cost of incarceration has grown from $9 billion to more than $60 billion
annually over the last twenty years, a figure that does not include the added cost
to the courts, prosecutor and public defender offices, or probation and parole.
This ever growing
burden on federal and state budgets has resulted in increased interest in the
complex challenges of successful offender reentry, encouraging many jurisdictions
to reexamine their current policies and practices in the light of escalating
costs, limited resources, and particularly, emerging research on methods to
Research has made
clear that punishment-driven approaches alone are not effective in reducing
recidivism or preventing future crime. To encourage successful offender reentry
and prevent future crime, corrections professionals must address the reasons
why offenders become involved in the criminal justice system.
intervention, offenders will leave incarceration facing those same challenges
and without the tools necessary to overcome them.
Common obstacles to
offenders’ success include:
Education Barriers. More than one-third of
offenders in prison have not earned a high school diploma or GED
and 4 out of 5 have not received any postsecondary education. While most
prisons offer educational classes (e.g., Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary
Education), only a portion of inmates receive these services. In fact, between 2012
and 2014, the number of prisons offering these services decreased.
Barriers. Furthermore, the lack of job skills, the deterioration of skills while
incarcerated (1/3 of offenders receive vocational training while they are incarcerated),
intermittent work histories, and the stigma of being in prison make finding
legitimate and well-paying employment in the community difficult.
Abuse and Addiction. Fifty-three percent (53%) of male state
prisoners and 60% of female state
prisoners meet the DSM-IV drug dependence or abuse criteria. This is four times
the rate of addiction experienced by the general population. Yet only about one in
every ten offenders participates in substance abuse programming prior to release.
Health Concerns. Mental health problems affect the majority of both male (55%) and female
(73%) adults in prison. Women offenders often suffer from depression, anxiety
disorders (e.g., PTSD), and eating disorders, while substance abuse and
antisocial personality disorders are more prevalent among men.
For offenders who may have been homeless prior to incarceration
and struggle to find sustainable, affordable housing after release, fewer than
ten percent will have the opportunity to live in a halfway house or other
community release center.
for Children. For the majority of offenders (55%) who have dependent children,
reentry brings an increased responsibility for the physical, emotional, and financial
wellbeing of others.
Survival Concerns. For offenders who are released from prison without
the necessary identification (e.g., birth certificate, state issued
identification) and transportation options (e.g., personal vehicle, a residence
near public bus routes), obtaining appropriate housing, employment, and services
can be quite challenging if not impossible.
“This year, some 600,000 inmates
will be released from prison back into society. We know from long experience
that if they can’t find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to
commit more crimes and return to prison…. America is the land of the second
chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a
--President George W. Bush, 2004 State of the Union Address