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Recidivism in the United States of America: Where Is Our Current System Failing?

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Recidivism in the United States of America:

Where is or current system failing?

The United States has more individuals incarcerated per person than any other country. A fifteen state study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that over two-thirds of released prisoners were rearrested within three years. "The 1994 recidivism study estimated that within 3 years, 51.8% of prisoners released during the year were back in prison either because of a new crime for which they received another prison sentence, or because of a technical violation of their parole." (Bureau of Justice Statistics) The staggering number of recidivist in the United States clearly demonstrates that fact that in most jurisdictions our current correctional system is failing to meet the needs of the inmates and ultimately the needs of society.

Statistics show that many inmates upon release from prison are unable to integrate back into society and are ill-equipped to lead productive lives. While trying to cope with a low self esteem and a lack of sense of self worth many ex-convicts must attempt to reestablish ties with their families. Lack of a higher education in addition to having a criminal record can make it extremely difficult for the ex-convict to find employment. Upon release these individuals are also being placed back into the same environment. Several different studies have pointed to these factors playing a large part in the current rate of recidivism in the United States today. Programs are needed within our Criminal Justice System that address the causes of recidivism on a National level.

Studies have shown that a high percentage of individuals convicted of committing crimes within the United States are undereducated. Despite this fact, in 1994 Congress abolished Pell grants for prisoners. The Education Association of the United States Department of Education Office of Correctional Education found that "simply attending school behind bars reduces the likelihood of reincarceration by 29%." (Kenner) It is my belief that educational programs within our prison system should be mandatory. A stipulation for release should be that an inmate must at the very least obtain their GED. There should also be a system in place to allow for secondary education, either trade or scholastic. The "Three State Recidivism Study" noted earlier in this paragraph also found that for every $1.00 that was spent on educational programs there was at least a $2.00 savings at not reincarnating individuals. These funds would more than adequately cover the costs incurred by establishing and maintaining the educational programs. One possible incentive for inmates to participate in this program could also be that any who successfully complete the program would be placed into a job recruitment program. Employers and corporations involved in the program who employ the individual directly upon their release from prison could be offered a tax break. At the same time the inmates would have obtained the skill being sought by said employers. In providing inmates with a higher education not only could recidivism be reduced but life long tools

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