28 April 2009

Missing the Support and Structure of Prison

Today, one gentlemen looked me in the eye and said,

"If I can't stay in government assisted housing, and if no one will hire someone with my criminal history, I might as well go right back to prison."

If recently released individuals leave prison with no options, if they feel like they are set up for failure, we have failed them.

Someone very wise once suggested that 90% of an individual's time in prison should be focused toward re-entry. Daily life in prison is so hyper-organized, so consistently structured, that upon release, many citizens feel completely overwhlemed by the chaos of a schedule that they are now completely responsible for. Although there is no longer anyone who has restricted your freedom, there is also no longer anyone giving you any direction.

If you could have a roof over your head, food to eat, a schedule to follow, and even some medical care, (and all of these things seem so difficult to find outside of prison walls) would you be tempted to re-offend?

I don't have the stats, but I have heard the prison system is pretty expensive. I understand that all systems are difficult to change, and I'm sure this is no exception. But what if we funded re-entry programs as much as incarceration? Would the numbers drop?

No comments:

Post a Comment