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States Report Reductions in Recidivism

States Report Reductions in Recidivism

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 62% of all people released from state prisons will be re-arrested within three years, and 40% will be re-incarnated. For a justice system to be effective, prison sentences need to effectively rehabilitate prisoners before their reentry into society. Yet, all too often our penal system focuses on punishment rather than reform. A new report issued by the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments sheds positive light on prison recidivism rates.

Last week’s report profiled seven states, comparing three-year post-release recidivism rates for those released in the year 2007 to those released in the year 2005. The Center attributed impressive reductions in Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont to increased attention and focus on behalf of state officials,. These states were chosen because they carefully monitor their recidivism rates. State-by-state recidivism reduction rates are outlined in the table below:

                                       Prison Recidivism Rate Reductions by State

 

Percent change in Recidivism Rate

Number Fewer Returned to Prison for the 2007 release group

Kansas

-15%

289

Michigan

-18%

862

Ohio

-11%

1,278

Oregon

-8%

138

Texas

-11%

1,212

Vermont

-6%

141

(Table Adopted from the Justice Center report)

One major reason that recidivism rates are dropping is the Second Chance Act . The bipartisan initiative established funding streams for rehabilitation, addiction treatment, mentoring, job-training, housing assistance and other programs meant to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society.

Despite its bipartisan nature in its first incarnation, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011, introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rob Portman (R-OH), has not received any major attention. The Reform Movement has been active in an effort to advance this legislation, and to call for increased funding for efforts to reduce recidivism rates.

Jewish tradition teaches us that rehabilitation should be given a higher priority than punishment. We are taught to take “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). Thus, the improvement of reentry programs is foundational in a Jewish approach to criminal justice. Although the reported reductions in state recidivism provide encouraging news, we still hope that the rest of the 43 states might follow in the footsteps of the seven making progress.

Image Courtesy of The-Slammer

Published: 10/03/2012

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