Discharged Prisoners: Rehabilitation not Segregation
What are the chances that a young teen will be able to get a job, buy a house, and support themselves without any outside help? Slim to none. Well, many people in prison have approximately the same amount of education and resources but they are still expected to achieve those goals. Jails are becoming increasingly crowded and recidivism rates are climbing but no one seems to understand why because the crime rates are relatively stable. The number of people incarcerated in America rose from 500,000 to 2.3 million in under 30 years. (NAACP) Offenders are repeatedly returning to jail after being released, which is feeding into this crowding. This must stop; there is only one answer. Although recidivism rates are on the rise, the persistent use of rehabilitation programs will ensure a higher number of successful inmate reentries to society. The beginning of this harsh cycle starts with the environment that people are forced to live in. When children grow up in safe and enriching environments they are more likely to acquire good habits. When a child grows up in a tough environment they are inclined to develop aggressive habits. Many of these bad environments are in schools that have been overcrowded due to lack of funding. Americas Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints said, “Californians are spending more to incarcerate their citizens than to educate their children,” (Cozic 21). This spending continues to hurt the children’s educational foundation. There is less availability of schools, and when one is available it is typically crowded. These congested schools tend to be more violent. Those who do not receive a sufficient education have a hard time getting jobs. If they do not get a job that will support them it is common that they might turn to other, illegal, things to make some quick money. All because the state did not provide them with the education needed to get a well paying job. If schools were properly funded then there would be no need to put so much tax money into jails. When people have a good education experience they are more likely to continue on to college and strive for higher goals. This success in in education coincides with the possible decrease in recidivism rates as studied in Ohio: While the overall recidivism rate was 40 percent, the recidivism rate for inmates enrolled in the college program was 18 percent. In addition, Ohio statistics show that inmates graduating from the college program reduced the rate of recidivism by 72 percent when compared with inmates not participating in any education program. (Vacca) There is a dramatic drop in recidivism in the people who have only attended college. The improvement is even larger for those who have graduated. It is difficult to change habits when there are not many other options in life, but with proper education people can have the chance to start off right and adjust their lives easily when needed. Previous thinking says criminals should go to jail, but a lesser-acknowledged effect of incarceration is how the inmates act outside of prison once released. These consequences have been studied and Cozic mentions them in his book when he says, “Prisons and jails thus have a dual effect: They protect society from criminals, but they also contribute to crime by transferring their violent subculture to our community once inmates are released,” (Cozic 34). Human beings are easily molded by their surroundings. As a child, you learn to smile or say hello if someone is looking your way but in jail a persons habits can change. They might associate a stare with a fight after being around that form of reaction for so long. When released, they bring those reactive habits into society making it more dangerous. Cozic also says, “Professionals who work with ex-offenders have said it appears prison damages a person's midrange response to the environment, leaving the choice of gritting one's teeth and enduring, or full-fledged attack...
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