Prisons became into effect right after the American Revolution and has been a pivotal part of America’s society to this day. One of the main purposes behind prison besides a form of punishment is to give rehabilitation to those who have broken the law so that once they are let back into society, they can abide by the rules and live as an every day American. Recently, America’s incarceration system has received a lot of flak for their extremely high recidivism rate (rearrest of criminals). This makes me wonder, is America really doing its best to rehabilitate inmates?
An article on recidivism from the National Institute of Justice released data showing 68% of prisoners released within three years will return to jail. In five years that number jumps to around 75%. On top of that, the 50% of prisoners that were rearrested, are then arrested again after their first year out. This is a lot of inmates going in and out of jail which defeats the purpose of incarceration if the jails cannot properly rehabilitate their inmates.
Many prisons have begun to bring in psychiatrist to help deal with the mental aspect of things and create classroom settings to teach prisoners to read, write and further educate themselves. One prison has provided inmates with the chance of getting an education in business. These prisoners then take MBA-level courses such as learning how to write business plans as well as give business pitches. This program goes by the name of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) and has already been extremely successful. They have over 1,000 graduates, and almost all of the inmates find a job within 90 days of being released from prison. On top of that, their recidivism rate is less than 7%.
Enriching programs like PEP is what America’s incarceration system needs. Instead of allowing criminals to sit in jail, we should focus more on their rehabilitation than anything and give prisoners a way to make a beneficial impact in the community legally. Unfortunately a majority of prisons have not incorporated programs such as PEP and recidivism is still a problem that plagues our incarceration system to this day. Response To Intervention (RTI) has paired up with Penn State University’s Justice Center for Research and have been conducting a study on the recidivism problem. The study involves 700 individuals who have had a criminal history. The study will involve conducting interviews that will take place about 20-25 years from the participant first arrested. The goal of this study is to examine the main effects behind recidivism in the community and help lead to the decrease of the recidivism rate. As of now, our incarceration system has shown a lack of effort in regards to rehabilitating their inmates.