A new documentary, “Outcasts: Surviving the Culture of Rejection,” explores the history of recidivism and what the writer and director of this documentary calls the culture of rejection. The documentary focuses on the successful efforts and results made by the John R. Hay House located in Kingsport, Tennessee.
In Tennessee, half of the offenders return to prison within three years. Tennessee’s fifty percent recidivism rate is better than Delaware’s eighty percent recidivism rate, but that is really not saying much. Last week, PrisonPath discussed in “Recidivism In Delaware: 8 in 10 Released Inmates Back in Prison,” what Delaware should do to reduce their atrocious high rate of recidivism. 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 Hay House was founded in 1981 to help former inmates re-enter the community as responsible and productive citizens. The Hay House has a ninety percent success rate. In the past five years more than 1,700 individuals have entered the Hay House program. Of the 1700, 500 earned GEDs, 899 completed alcohol and drug education and aftercare programs, and 579 completed behavioral modification and education programs. Additionally, participants earned $1,333,457; paid $516,175 in child support, criminal injury fees, restitution, fines and court costs; and worked more than 124,000 community service hours worth an estimated $638,000.
Hay House Director, Dr. Chuck Walsh, stated that the Hay House, “Gives them a place to live, get treatment they need, medicine, get a job, pay their fines. It gives them at least a fighting chance.” Hay House costs taxpayers less than one-tenth that of imprisonment and has been recognized as a model program by the Tennessee State Department of Corrections. After its PBS premiere in Tennessee, the station will distribute the film to other PBS stations nationwide. What would the prison industry do, if the national recidivism rate was reduced from almost seventy percent to ten percent.