What Can be Done About America's High Recidivism Rate?


Is prison working? A 2016 study, ‘Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview’ tracked 404,638 prisoners who were released from across 30 states between 2005 and 2010 to see how many had returned to prison. It found that 67.8 percent of released prisoners were arrested again within three years with that figure rising to 76.6 percent over the course of five years. This article will look at what can be done to reduce recidivism rates. There is no one answer to that taxing questions, but there are a few solutions that might be able to help reduce the country’s recidivism problem and help keep people from returning to jail.
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Help get prisoners into employment

Many people turn to crime as a means to support themselves and because they feel they have no other choice. This is particularly true among those with a criminal history who will struggle to get a job to help get their life back on track upon their release. In America, there are 27,000 state licensing rules that keep felons out of jobs ranging from barbers to roofers. Contrast that to Norway, where prisoners are allowed to start new jobs 18 months before their release in order to prepare them for the return to normal life. Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at just 20 percent.

Reduce substance abuse before prisoners return to society

Drink and drug dependency are one of the factors behind high recidivism rates. A study carried out in 1999 by Dr. Harry K. Wexler on 478 prisoners at a state prison near San Diego found that after three years, only 27 percent of the prisoners involved in the prisons drug treatment program were returned to prison, compared to a recidivism rate of 75 percent from those not involved in the program. Treating drink and drug dependency while prisoners are incarcerated gave them a better chance of living a sober life after rehab which in turn helps keep them out of prison.

Ensure prisoners have access to a place to live or housing

Studies suggest that around ten percent of prisoners do not have a place to live upon their release from prison and as a result, end up on the streets. Being homeless is likely to drive them back to committing a crime. It isn’t unusual to hear of prisoners who re-offend in order to be arrested for a petty crime and locked up as a result. They can’t post bail, and so they remain locked up – however they are provided for in terms of food and shelter, which is much preferable, and appealing, to them as opposed to being out on the streets in the winter cold. Doing more to help offenders get a roof over their heads on their initial release from jail may have its benefits, as they can begin to start trying to put together some form of normal life. This in turn may help reduce recidivism rates.






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