...Fueling the Entrepreneurial Flame

Recidivism is an antonym or the opposite of healing, progress, strengthening, success, achievement.  Recidivism exists in the demographic formerly incarcerated individuals.

When a person commits a crime and is subsequently sentenced to serve time in prison, the fundamental objective is to protect the public from those individuals who do not subscribe to the fundamental rules, which facilitate a civilized society.

Overall, one out of every 140 U.S. residents is incarcerated.  Crime, punishment, rehabilitation and quarantine, and the cost to victims in both dollars and personal injury are economic burdens that total over one trillion dollars per year.  

Statistically, 95% of all persons incarcerated will eventually be released.  Statistically, 36 – 59 out of every 100 persons released from prison recidivate.  It is difficult to locate reliable statistics as to how many crimes are committed by a recidivist before finally being arrested.  However, it is reasonable to conclude that the number of crimes/victims attributable to these recidivists is greater than just the sum of the recidivists.

Contributing factors to recidivism are a deficiency of education, robust employment opportunities and genuine and effective rehabilitation services during periods of incarceration.

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Fueling the entrepreneurial flame

Crime reentry punishment rehabilitation quarantine

The process of placing people in our nation’s prisons  clearly fulfills the objective of protecting the public - temporarily - for so long as such people remain quarantined.  

Under our current system, it is problematic that 95% of persons incarcerated will eventually be released, carrying out with them the same life-baggage they carried in, functionally at the same literacy level as when they went in, and with limitations on their ability to fulfill their economic needs.

Formerly incarcerated individuals face unique challenges.  Life skills that are applicable to our civilian culture are frequently no more advanced than they were at the genesis of the individual's forst day of incarceration.

State and federal prison budgets have reached incendiary levels.  Every state prison budget is at or approaching one billion dollars annually, with some states into the tens of billions.  The mandate is to cut budgets, and the greatest cuts are in rehabilitation, programming, education and pre-release preparation.

The problem of prisoner recidivism has become an epidemic in our nation, and with a national high school drop-out rate approaching 50%, a whole new generation is preparing to join the ranks of crime and recidivism.

Despite educational and vocational programming, pre-release preparation and other rehabilitation agendas in our prisons, the recidivism rate has remained in the area of two thirds for decades.  Irrespective of the continuation or elimination of programming resulting from budget restraints, it is reasonable to conclude that the government has done everything it can do to reduce recidivism.  There are many effective educational and vocational programs in many prisons, and it is certainly hoped that such programming will continue despite the need to adjust budgets.

However, punishment and holistic rehabilitation are arguably diametrically opposing concepts that do not effectively coexist.

There are many barriers to reentry because of a felony conviction, which include a variety of employment restrictions.  Some of the collateral sanctions of a felony conviction are the result of legislative panic following the commission of a horrendous crime sensationalized in the media.  Much good work is underway to examine and adjust or eliminate the collateral sanctions that prove dysfunctional toward the fundamental goal of protecting the public and providing an attainable transition and community reentry.

To reiterate, the primary objective of state and federal departments of correction are to protect the public.  The current population of our prisons and jails is approximately 2.3 million people, of which 95% will eventually be released back to the community.

Releasing two million offenders back to the community who are ill prepared, and who have limited economic opportunity is clearly counter productive.  The need is a holistic program that cleans up an individuals life-baggage, develops a realistic and attainable plan for success and provides the educational tools and opportunities to transition these people from offender to ex-offender, from tax consumer to tax contributor, and a plan that becomes self-funding and self-sustaining.

Our government and community organizations are doing all that they can do to address prisoner recidivism.  It is time for the people with the problem to become their own solution.

The Need


Sources: David A. Anderson, "The Aggregate Burden of Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, October 1999.   National Criminal Justice Association – Justice Bulletin, May 2004 – Vol. 24, No. 5.  This figure is however subject to argument and the number may be even more dramatic.  The current prison population has remained at roughly 2 million for over a decade.  On an annual basis, roughly half of the population is released.  Over a three year period from release, roughly half recidivate.  In order to maintain the population of approximately 2 Million, the deficit is new first time arrivals.

Empowering the people with the problem to become their own solution.

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