How to stop the revolving prison door

I’m pretty sure a third grader can solve this problem- but the “task force” has been hard at work trying to figure this out:

About a third of the 1,500 ex-offenders released into Montgomery County each year wind up back in prison within three years at a cost to taxpayers of about $25,000 each, according to a report from a Montgomery County task force that has studied the problem for the past three years….

The board wants to help ex-offenders stand up to the challenges they face upon release. “If you can help someone turn his or her life around, that person becomes not a drain on the community, but a taxpaying citizen,’’ said U.S. District Judge Walter Rice, co-chair of the policy board. “And in terms of crimes not committed, it could cause a tremendous increase in public safety.’’

In Ohio, 42 percent of Montgomery County inmates lacked a high school diploma or GED; 54 percent were unemployed; 40 percent abused alcohol; and 75 percent abused other drugs.

via High cost of jailing re-offenders has county seeking fixes.

I could go on about the issues that the state forces upon these ex-cons- like making them all buy high-risk insurance on release if they want to drive (if you don’t drive for a couple of years- you are forced into it)- or the silliness of laws prohibiting ex-cons from doing certain kinds of work (you can learn to be a barber in prison- but you can’t get a license in Ohio with a felony record).

Which makes this other story about Raleigh Trammell all that much more odd:

Wednesday’s indictment of the Rev. Raleigh Trammell wasn’t the first time he’s been accused of stealing taxpayer money.

In 1978, Trammell was convicted of larceny and grand theft involving money that was supposed to help the needy.

After he was released from prison, local officials once again entrusted Trammell with taxpayer money.

via Trammell entrusted with funds after earlier theft.

How can a former convicted welfare fraud felon end up in charge of federal money- and still get the blame- instead of the people who gave it to him?

It’s like we intentionally try to screw convicts- and then wonder why they keep doing the same thing?

Here is the simple solution: you don’t get out of prison until you’ve completed a GED and at least 1 year of community college- fully transferable to any school in the state- where you must immediately enroll and complete a 2-year degree.

You don’t get out until you’ve completed an intensive drug and alcohol treatment program- if that was part of your problem.

The state offers employers the option to employ these ex-offenders without any worry of it counting against their unemployment- or workers comp ratings.

Before long- the revolving door will stop spinning.

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5 Responses

  1. John Ise January 13, 2011 / 9:52 am
    Good post but missing one important element…we need to stop incarcerating so many people!!!  Does anyone come out of prison better than they go in?  From The Economist:

    The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.
    In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offence. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder.

    The entire article is worth a gander: http://www.economist.com/node/16636027

  2. truddick January 13, 2011 / 11:57 am
    Speaking as a community college prof, I am not particularly hopeful that prisoners who aren’t self-motivated will benefit from college classes.  I base that on one of the leading sources of Ohio’s high dropout rate: parents who force kids to enroll when they don’t want to: the kid proves the parent wrong by failing.

    The first step is to motivate prisoners to want the better life that education brings.  That would require a highly structured, highly supervised environment with a consistent system of rewards and disincentives.

    Which, of course, would cost a whole lot more, and require raising taxes.

    The Kasich plan is to close prisons, release more convicts faster, and for us to learn to live with more of the same decline.  Tho’ there’s a chance that John Ise’s intelligent observation will be implemented as an unintended consequence.

  3. Bill January 13, 2011 / 9:02 pm
    I have a novel idea!
    Lets put in jail, all of the lawmakers/prosecutors/judges who ignore the true scales of justice, and use the law to wrongfully imprison, convict, and or incarcerate citizens for their own political purposes…..
    And see what happens to the incarceration numbers!
    – and further more, stop the “tar and feathering” of first time offenders. Once justice is served, jail time or probation,
    remove the felon label and give them a fair chance to get a job.(as if it isn’t already difficult enough)
  4. Lily May 28, 2011 / 9:14 pm
    If they can’t get jobs, then most will resort to crime.  Why do you think the crime rate is so high now?  People are out of work and they go to extreme measures. 
    It used to be that they gave employers an incentive to high an ex con, so that would be a start.  Nowadays when they put on the application that they have been in prison or even those who havent’ been to prison but have been convicted of a felony are doomed from the very start.  Employers will not hire ex-cons…period….they are a liability.
    So that’ is one of the reasons there is a revolving door.
  5. Ty B September 28, 2011 / 11:34 pm
    My name is Ty and i’m not a criminologist, nor have I been to school to study the act of criminals or for that matter how each State treats it criminals. No, Im more then all that, I am an “EX-FELON”! Yea, I just discharged a 20 year sentence, a violent 20 year sentence for an Assault upon a police officer. While I was in prison I seen more drugs then I had on the streets. The guards themselves were bringing them in, yes they violated plenty of laws. All that dope all those guards brought in to keep alot of inmates addicted, bound and ready to return back to prison after they discharge. I’m an ex-blood, that is a huge gang all over the world. I’ve been violent in my past and it was my 3rd incarceration in the state of Oklahoma (my d.o.c # is 215409, for your personal reference).
    This last incarceration really made me mad. For my 3rd incarceration I was the one who suffered an injustice and it was a state official (a police officer) that came out to my place of residence and shot me with my hands up. I never touched the officer and he never asked who I was… he shot me in cold blood and he never did a day in prison. Now, why everyone is saying this and that, I bet not a one of you has never looked a cold blooded murder in the eye, much less be roommates with one. Don’t you all get it….. the only thing that keeps me from going back to prison is……JESUS! Do u understand, it is not a darn “G.E.D”, or a drug program (trust me I know for a fact).  I had all that stuff, I had a G.E.D at 17 yr old, i’m 38. It is Jesus. Jesus is not the center of the United States or America any more…. thus the mess. I used to hate prison, until I did time in a medium facility… now I realize that prison is a very good thing. I’m glad they are harsh on some peoples prison sentence…. better then HELL  

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