After decades of exploding prison populations and dismal recidivism rates, there are changes coming. Last week, Gov. Cuomo’s program was discussed in “Inmates are Coming.” The governor cited studies proving that education programs for prisoners reduces recidivism. This reduction in recidivism is a strong incentive not only for inmates, but also for taxpayers.
Teresa Miller, a professor at the University of Buffalo, has studied New York prisons. The professor’s studies have shown the connection between education and lowering recidivism. Professor Miller has stated:
“When you consider that an inmate simply participating in a college program reduces his likelihood of re-offending after release by 46 percent, the impact of college coursework is impressive. When you consider that an inmate who earns a college degree in prison reduces his likelihood of re-offending from a national average of 60 percent to a mere 5.6 percent, the impact is astounding.”
In New Haven, Connecticut, the Mayor has made major changes in their reentry program, “Project Fresh Start.” The new changes will help inmates navigate their new confusing world. Potential employers will meet with inmates during their incarceration to improve the transition. The program will receive advance emails notifying them of a prisoner’s release, as well as a profile of that person. With this advance information, they will be able to assess the individual needs of each offender and devise a reentry plan before the inmate is released. The program will focus on the education, housing, and health care of each individual offender. One inmate may have special health issues while another inmate already has a high school degree.
The New Haven program will also provide mentoring for each new returning citizen. With mentoring, the former inmate will have a better chance of succeeding in his or her new life.
With effective re-entry programs, returning citizens and taxpayers will have a better society.