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Re-Entry Programs & Recidivism: The Connection



Non Violent Inmates

Every year, the pundits have complained about the  high recidivism rates in the United States. A Approximately 725,000 inmates are released annually from prisons throughout the United States. 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. Recidivism rates vary from state to state. California is at the high end with 60 percent and South Carolina is at the low end with 32 percent. Between 2004 – 2007, 30 percent of individuals released from federal prisons under supervision were returned to prison. Almost half of the individuals returning to prison were re-incarcerated for technical violations and not for new crimes.

Without effective re-entry programs, recidivism will remain high.  The returning citizens may have drug and alcohol addictions, 25% have mental health issues, significant numbers are not educated, and a criminal record will exponentially reduce their chances for employment. In some states, the unemployment rate for released inmates is 50 percent. Most importantly, many returning citizens need a stable and safe place to stay upon their release. If these issues are addressed appropriately, recidivism will be reduced.

For example, Michigan spends $35,000 a year to incarcerate an individual. It costs more than $35,000 a year to educate a University of Michigan student. Six years ago, the state decided to focus on the problems of reentry. Michigan now has saved more than $200 million annually by implementing aggressive job placement programs. Robert Satterfield, a 46 year old Michigan resident was imprisoned for almost six years for embezzlement. For months, he was unable to find employment. A successful reentry program, 70Times 7, gave him guidance and training. The program found a job for him with a local metalworking company. During a 16 month period, he received several raises, and was earning $13.00 an  hour. The company owner stated that he has six former inmates employed and they were among his best employees.

For our fellow Americans who agonize over alleged coddling of former inmates—effective re-entry programs actually benefits society in the end. Lower recidivism rates translates into lower crime rates, less prisons, more taxpayer’s monies available for education, etc., and a more productive society.

By Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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isireliPrisonPathTirtzah Bat SarahJosh Inklovichpaiutemom Recent comment authors
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I want to thank Micheal, Scott, and Bradley for their honest, responsible, and common sense approach. If people under correctional supervision were given meaningful and marketable vocational skills recidivism would plummet. Education has proven itself as a significant tool to eliminate recidivism, but that is only effective if the individual has good fundamental skills. However, if vocational skills are thought then higher education becomes an option after the ability to earn a living is secured. The formula is simple. There is always going to be a need for a slummer before there is a need for another clerk. Spend money… Read more »


Javan I beg to slightly differ. We cannot put all ex offenders in the same basket. Like in the rest of society, some will make good plumbers, others will make good university professors, others might become excellent nurses, doctors, wine makers, or anything for that matter. One’s personality and abilities should be what first and foremost counts. In France we had this case where this armed robber ended up killing a police officer, got sentenced to death, but his sentence was transformed into life when the death penalty was abolished. Studied all his way through his detention until he obtained… Read more »


are there any of the mentioned programs available in California? Also, in reality, 90% of the c.o.’s WANT these people coming back; after all,…..job security and a retirement that can’t be beat!

Josh Inklovich
Tirtzah Bat Sarah

Wanted to respond to several comments here: Michael wrote: “I am a firm believer that an opportunity to make money, a change of environment and a change of colleagues/friends…in other words viable employment…save people from recommitting crimes.” By Michael In response Brad wrote: “I agree completely about the job issue. During my pre-release, the majority of inmates were concerned about finding a job and a stable and safe place to stay. Most did not have either option. A job gives more than money, a job gives self worth and respect”. By Brad Then Martine also brought up a great point… Read more »


Offenders are not bad people, they just a made wrong decision and are going through the consequences of those decisions. I do believe though one have broken the law, it doesn’t make him or her any less human. We can solve the problem of recidivism if we realize as members of the community, we have the most important role and that is the successful reintegration of an offender back into our community. We must never forget that these men and women were not born in prison, they were born in a home, they have a family, they are mums, dads,… Read more »