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Re-Entry Programs & Recidivism: The Connection Continued



Non Violent Inmates

San Francisco understands what is necessary in order to lower recidivism and prison overcrowding. Unlike many probation departments and prison systems, San Francisco’s counselors look to what is needed for a released inmate in terms of housing, employment, health care, and drug rehabilitation. The probation department has even picked up returning citizens from prisons to bring back to their homes in San Francisco.

San Francisco was confronted about 18 years ago with a court order regarding prison overcrowding, similar to the federal order presently facing the state of California. Instead of continuing to incarcerate as many inmates as possible, through the efforts of a local prosecutor, Paul Henderson, the city focused on turning an ex-offender into a productive member of society. This goal of re-integration for the returning citizens required judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and law enforcement to work with social workers, nonprofit advocates, and public defenders.

San Francisco realized that long prison sentences were not a deterrent to crime. If long sentences were effective, then California would not have the problem of excessive prison overcrowding. Barry Krisberg, senior fellow at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law noted that, “Everything we know from the most rigorous research suggests if you want to reduce recidivism rates, you have to address housing, security, availability of jobs, and social connections.” A substantial number of inmates are incarcerated for non-violent crimes and they have the best chance for reintegration into society if they receive appropriate assistance.

It is not rocket science. We do not need further studies to prove that a released inmate who is employed, has safe housing, and is enrolled in the appropriate rehabilitation program, is unlikely to become another number in the high recidivism rate. With such programs for reintegration, society will benefit from a lower crime rate, fewer prisons, reduced social costs, and more productive citizens.

By Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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Gerrie McKay

I totally agree with these views. My son was released sent to city where he had no ties. Was told to buy a tent and a bike to live under a bridge with others released from prison. No help of any kind. There’s no way they can survive there w/o committing a crime. We traveled from Washington got him an apartment and everything he needed to get and keep a job. He requested transfer to Washington where his family can support him. He’s been out for 5 years or longer got married and still working in the same place for… Read more »

Brian Pierce

Excellent article Bradley. I could not agree more.

Eva Brown

I am working hard here in the state of Alabama to build a successful re entry program and would like to open a re entry hose for newly released inmates and your article sums it all up on what they need to be successful. Even sometimes with a loving family they come out to nothing because there is no structure for them. I would like to change that here.


I agree strongly that reentry success is the key

Bonnie O'Brien

This article sums in up in a concise manner. Housing and a job will help sustain many who no longer want to be incarcerated. More needs to be done with issues of addiction and mental health and then we will be on the real road to reform. Thanks for all you do Bradley!