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When Prisoners Come Home

When Prisoners Come Home

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When Prisoners Come Home

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  1. When Prisoners Come Home Joan Petersilia

  2. 95% of prisoners will be released • What effect does moving a population of people from the community to prison for a few years and then returning them home have on a community? • Prison as a normal phenomenon of growing up

  3. Introduction/Overview • 1,600 inmates are released each day • ¾ history of substance abuse, 1 in 6 mentally ill, 2.3% HIV/AIDS, 1/3 unemployed • Limited programs and still decreasing • Limited resources • public opinion – “principle of least eligibility”

  4. Parole is also declining- those that serve their whole sentence need parole most • Limited help at re-entry: bus ticket, limited funds, new sweats, no housing, job searching help • Return to impoverished cities and old habits • Permanent social exclusion- voting restrictions, register with the state – permanent stigma

  5. 6.5% of the adult population are felons • 30% re-offend in 1st 6 months, 44% after a year, and 67.5% within the 1st 3 years • Tough on crime in 1970’s has led to increase in prison populations by 700% • No more discretion on parole board to determine when the inmate is “ready” for release

  6. What Should be Done? • Prison work, education, substance abuse programs • Reinstitute discretionary parole • Post-prison programming in 6 months following release • Expunge adult criminal records after a certain period of time

  7. Chapter 2: Who’s Coming Home? • 1 in 109 men are incarcerated at this moment • Average age of 34 is increasing • Mostly men, with women drastically increasing • 1/3 White, 47% Black, 16% Hispanic • 20% of black men will experience prison by age 35 • 77% of growth is due to non-violent crimes • 44% released are 1st time offenders, 25% have served 3 or more terms

  8. 19% are illiterate, 51% are not high school graduates • Education is declining: 350 higher ed. programs in 1990 to only 8 in 1997 • Those that attend classes are 23% less likely to re-offend • 10% of inmates have a learning disability • 13% have a mental illness or substance abuse problems • Only 21% were employed before incarceration, 5% never had a job before • Only 17% are married • 7% of black children have a parent in prison, 3% Hispanic, 1% white

  9. 59% used drug in the month prior to arrest, only 18% got treatment in prison • Inmates have AIDS 5 times greater than the U.S. population, Hepatitis C 9 to 10 times greater, TB 6 times greater • Overall, general health is worse than U.S. pop, limited health care in prison, none when they get out • Very high concentration of inmates from the cities, very high number of repeat offenders • Leads to increased violence, social disorganization, and crime in the cities • High displacement of people from the city to prison leads to weakened societal bonds

  10. Overall, there is a large number of people being released with very little resources. • The average inmate has served a longer sentence, is more disconnected to society and their families, high higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse, is less educated, and unemployed, more likely to have been in custody previously, has young children, and has spent more time in solitary confinement with no human contact. • And overall, there are no programs, job training, or education to address many of these issues

  11. Chapter 7: The Revolving Door of Justice • 2/3 are rearrested within 3 years • Highest recidivism is for property crimes (73.8%), then public order, then violent offenses • Recidivism for drug crimes is 66.7% • Recidivism is higher for younger offenders, males, blacks, and for those with more priors • Released offenders accounted for 4.7% of new crimes from 1994-97 • Recidivism rates in 1983 compared to 1994 are actually 5% lower- tough on crime is not deterring offenders, but making it harder for them to refrain from crime • Gendreau, Little, and Goggin (1996) – found that dynamic (as opposed to static) factors were better predictors of recidivism, i.e. antisocial personality, companions, and social achievement

  12. Chapter 8: Victim’s Role in Re-entry • Change in discretionary parole board to automatic release limits the victim’s voice • Crime Control Act- give rights to victims to be reasonably protected, be present at hearing, and receive info. on the inmate’s release • Victim’s Right’s Clarification Act- right to submit/deliver a victim impact statement • Have all these rights, but only half request notification and only 25% attend hearings

  13. Don’t want to re-live victimization, or cause the offender to retaliate • Not always vengeful, some want to help- victim statements do not significantly impact sentencing • Victims should get: • More information without having to make requests • Involvement in the parole board to set conditions of release • Involvement in the re-entry side of the criminal justice system

  14. Conclusions… • “Corrections does not correct” • Fail to distinguish between dangerous and non-violent offenders • Less discretion at every stage in the criminal justice system sends everyone to prison

  15. Unintended Consequences of Imprisonment • 1. Creates a criminalizing affect – stigma • Makes it so ex-cons cannot resume (start) a non-criminal life resort to crime • Petersilia prison group vs. probation: prison group were 11% more likely to re-offend • Sending more and more to prison makes more and more come out with no other life • 2. War on Drugs • Removing a drug dealer just creates a job opening for another to take his/her place • No deterrence by lengthening drug sentences the demand for drugs doesn’t go away

  16. 3. Families and Children • Experience parental rejection, multiple living arrangements, financial hardship, decreased quality of care • Leads to poor school performance, substance abuse, delinquency, and incarceration • 4. Reduced Power of Prisons to Deter • Usual to go to prison, less fear of them • Scared Straight Program- created more delinquency in those in the program due to exposure

  17. The Future: • Should remove non-violent offenders from prison, use that money to fund treatment/education in prison for the others and at re-entry • Go from prison to half-way house to the community • Public opinion is finally beginning to change: only 1/3 still want long prison sentences, hopefully education about rehabilitation will change that • But, much more to it– prison’s are ‘big business’…

  18. The Business Barrier • Interest in keeping prisons full- create lots of jobs (i.e.. prison guards) and markets (i.e. architects, contractor, hardware co., electronic firms, food, clothing, healthcare, toiletries) • Often is the only industry and outlet for jobs in small rural communities • Call new crimes a technical parole violation to send the offender immediately back to prison– interests in keeping cells full (i.e. California) • Once opened, prisons have made a huge economic commitment to many • Half of the 1,000 prisons in the U.S. have been built since 1980 • The prison industry is worth $37.8 billion a year – more than major league baseball • Education Cycle- Spend more on prison, less is available for education in the country… the less educated, the more likely one is to go to prison. Therefore, increasing the prison budget and further disarming education to fight the uphill battle

  19. Concluding Remarks • More informal control and cohesion contributes to less crime • The prison population is removed from society, enabling more punitive punishments on them • Must link prisoners to the community through programs • “We should do this not only because it will be good for prisoners, but because it will ultimately be good for their children, their neighbors, and the community at large”

  20. Discussion Questions • Think of the average inmate/parolee that Petersilia discusses. What disadvantages are created by the system in light of these characteristics? • What should be done with these characteristics in mind? Which changes are necessary? Which exceed the “principle of least eligibility”? • What role does the victim play in the process of re-entry? To what extent should their opinions and needs be considered? • Petersilia explains the opening of new prisons as economic commitments to communities and businesses. How does this effect the transition of prisons to go from incapacitation to programming and alternative sentencing? • How can we overcome the cycle of spending on prisons over education? How does this choice contribute to the increasing population of prisoners and growth of the prison industry?