In the celebrated series, “Game of Thrones,” it is whispered that “winter is coming.” Everyday in the United States, inmates are coming. According to the United States Department of Justice, 10,000 inmates are released every day and more than 650,000 inmates are returned to society every year. The United States Department of Justice states about Inmate’s Re-Entry:
“What can be done to help people who are released from prison keep from being rearrested? With no job, no money, and no place to live, returnees often find themselves facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place. Assisting ex-prisoners in finding and keeping employment, identifying transitional housing, and receiving mentoring are three key elements of successful re-entry into our communities.”
It is not rocket science. Without providing education, stable housing, employment, and mentoring, to returning citizens, our prisons will continue to suffer from a revolving door syndrome. A 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States indicated that more than 4 in 10 will return to prison within three years.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announced on Sunday, a plan, to offer college programs at ten state prisons. Immediately, there was an outcry against this program. The program will offer associate and bachelor degree education at 10 prisons, one in each region of the state. New York currently spends about $60,000 per year on each prisoner. Gov. Cuomo’s press release indicated it will cost approximately $5,000 per year to educate an inmate. Comments in newspapers and the internet ranged from ridicule to open hostility to providing education to inmates who qualify for this program. Opponents screamed that programs such as Gov. Cuomo’s– pamper inmates. They argue that society did not provide a free education to any of them. Without discussing the lack of basic, good education in our poorer communities, let us use our common sense.
Over 650,000 inmates, returning citizens, are released every year into communities throughout the United States. It is in all of our interests to provide education, stable housing, employment, and mentoring, to returning citizens, if we really want to reduce recidivism. Reduced recidivism translates into reduced crime, reduction of our overcrowded prisons, saving taxpayer’s monies, and a better society for all. Inmates are coming – let us be ready!