Did you know that in Arkansas it is against the law to mispronounce "Arkansas?" Or that in New Jersey it's illegal for a man to knit during fishing season?
In their opinion piece this week for "The Hill," Timothy Head and Craig DeRoche demonstrate how faith-based organizations are valuable in curbing recidivism in America.
“How can I plan to be successful in re-entering if I don’t even know when I’m going to get out?”
In his early 20s, aspiring journalist Aaron Suganuma was overcome by drug addiction. When his funds ran low, he resorted to stealing to support his habit.
As a general rule, when seeking to solve a problem, it helps to get the opinions of those most directly affected by the policy in question. Those who are most familiar with the situation are usually able to bring unique insights and ideas to the table, and are often better equipped to make these suggestions a reality.
There is a transformative power in good literature. A book can transport us to faraway places and introduce us to characters from different times and eras. It can rouse the emotions, challenge perceptions, and engage the mind in ways that few things can.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Increasingly, the great concern of legislators and departments of correction has been finding better ways to reduce recidivism—that tendency of former prisoners to relapse into criminal behavior.
There is little debate remaining that the United States has a significant problem with the recidivism of former prisoners. Department of Justice statistics show that one-third of released prisoners are rearrested in their first year outside prison walls. Within three years, that number jumps to 50 percent, and then to 75 percent over five years.
In 1994, Congress passed a crime bill that strengthened penalties for drug offenses and earmarked billions of dollars for new prison construction. Prison populations across the country boomed as a result, with recidivism rates remaining high. Drug offenses became the leading reason for incarceration, but prisons nationwide struggled to provide programming capable of breaking the cycle of incarceration, release, and rearrest.
Prisons, encircled by high walls topped with razor wire, seem to be closed worlds.
It’s easy to keep them out of sight and out of mind. Since prisons are so remote from most people’s daily lives, it can be difficult to recognize the humanity of the men and women inside and to value their rehabilitation and restoration.
The Albuquerque Business First journal recently asked its readers a probing question—would you hire someone who had just been released from prison?
Responses were predictably varied, with many respondents answering affirmatively. Those that did say they would hire a former prisoner typically cited the importance of second chances and a need to break the cycle of recidivism.