Criminal rehabilitation has proven to be a failed objective of justice systems in America. The justice system was created to confine, supervise, rehabilitate, and prepare reintegration for convicted felons. In a study conducted, the US Department of Justice reported that national prison recidivism rates are about 67%. One of the key reasons for recidivism among inmates is they lack skills. Attempting to return to society with little or no skills and the same negative problems is a formula for disaster. If attempts at obtaining a job are unsuccessful then many prisoners, upon release, have no other choice but to return back to where they were before being incarcerated: the same environment, the same people, the same habits. Most experts agree that the American justice system has been reduced to an expensive system of punishment, minus rehabilitation.
At the start of the twenty-second century, there are more than two million individuals incarcerated in prisons and/or jails. Soaring incarcerations rates and rising prison populations in America has been the study of many experts foreign and domestic. A vast number of state programs are being eliminated due to budget cuts and over populated prisons. Incarcerations rates are at an all-time high for the first time in history more than one in every one hundred adults in America are in jail or prison a fact that significantly impacts State and local budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety.
Recidivism rates for the U.S. are about 30 percent in the first year after release and 60 percent by the third year. Most inmates come out of prison no better equipped for a life without crime than when they went in. In many cases, inmates are released from prison with a bus ticket, a couple of dollars, thousands of dollars in child-support debt, no driver’s license, few marketable skills, the burden of a felony conviction, and a sarcastic good bye. The majority of newly released prisoners return to their communities, in most cases the poorest neighborhoods, where there are few services and resources available to them. Convincing employers to take a chance on former prisoners can be the hardest part of reentry.
The research that has been done indicates that correctional education is the most effective approach to fulfilling the mission of corrections. Correctional education reduces recidivism rates. Correctional education has a direct impact on the quality of life in our country and most particularly in ethnically diverse urban areas. Correctional education may be the protection that prevents the currently undereducated from becoming a permanent underclass. Correctional education promotes a successful reentry to society by improving the potential wages for the returning offender. Correctional education is the key to unlocking the shackles of intergenerational incarceration; in fact, research shows that correctional education protects the public’s safety, in the long run, better than any other type of correctional program.
Finally, motivation, determination and perseverance are very important qualities for an individual seeking to overcome the sad realities that he or she will face as a convicted felon. It is clear that overcoming social, political, legal and economic barriers is not a minute task. However, the support of family and friends is critical to overcoming those barriers. If there is no support from family and friends and the government continues to cut budgets for programs that are geared toward helping rehabilitate ex-felons with transitions, they will more than likely become frustrated, give up hope, and end if back in the criminal justice system furthering the effects of a failed justice system, and rises recidivism rates.
By: Craig Boykin