Why is Delaware so shocked about their high recidivism rate? Two past national reports revealed that two-thirds of the inmates in their studies were rearrested within three years of their release from incarceration. It is recognized that recidivism varies from state to state, but nationally the high recidivism rate from the two studies has not changed much. Delaware’s recidivism rate is higher than the national rate, but many of the state’s recidivism rates are disgraceful. The Delaware study was conducted in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s correctional system. The Delaware study included the programs available to prisoners while incarcerated and programs available to inmates after their release from prison.
As a former inmate, I can state that the problem is not “Rocket Science.” The programs in many prisons are inadequate. The support to released inmates is abysmal. A number of states have recognized the problem and the solutions. Michigan and Kansas have experienced lower recidivism rates after focusing on Re-entry for former inmates. Money was allocated for local housing and even to subsidize jobs.
As for programs in prison for inmates, so much more can be done to prepare inmates for a successful Re-entry. Unfortunately, many of our prisons lack any effective rehabilitation programs that would lead to employment for released inmates. Do we really think inmates picking up garbage on highways will lead to their future employment. My pre-release unit did not have any program to teach inmates how to find a job or how to interview for a job. Another inmate, a successful businessman, with my help, created a simple program to help inmates find employment. We volunteered to teach small classes for no extra credit or pay. The program was praised, but died a slow administrative death. The program was never implemented, despite the demand from other inmates for education about finding employment and interviewing for a job.
Delaware can save their money trying to analyze the causes and the solutions for the State’s record recidivism rate. Delaware should focus on three solutions. First, the prisons should provide effective programs that will lead to employment for inmates upon their release. Second, the state should work with the local community to provide decent housing for former inmates. Third, the state should help provide jobs by subsidizing employment for former inmates. The cost for the solutions is small in comparison to the high price of crime and the continual damage to our society.