It is no secret that existing state and federal prison systems are too often models of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Outdated facilities have been unable to keep up with growing prison populations. And despite the astronomical costs of housing prison inmates (a study of New York state facilities estimates that annual cost per prisoner is a staggering $167,731 – enough to send that same prisoner to an Ivy League school with full room and board for four years), recidivism rates remain around 40 percent.
How important is it for inmates to foster and develop artistic creativity behind bars? In a recent article for philly.com, Stephanie Ogrodnik asserts that in-prison art, landscaping, and writing programs serve an important role in preparing inmates for release, changing the way they see the world around them, and even facilitating reconciliation between prisoners and victims.
What impact does imprisoning young offenders have on their development and maturation? A new study by economists Anna Aizer and Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. indicates that juvenile detention is not the deterrent desired by law enforcement officials, but actually increases the odds of recidivism while reducing the possibility that they will graduate from high school.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.”– Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Vision is destiny. Our feet will generally take us where our eyes are focused, so if we want to get anywhere, we had better have a clear picture of where we’re headed.
The following commentary originally appeared on the BreakPoint website.
For many Americans, a single feeling shapes the way we see criminal justice: fear. When we think about our businesses, our communities and our loved ones, and the threat which crime poses to them, we react out of fear toward the perpetrators.