Prisoner Reentry

December 4, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 42
Can aid to ex-inmates significantly reduce recidivism?
By Peter Katel


An ex-inmate with an assault record found work with a Philadelphia construction firm (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Ex-inmate Ronald Birkmire Jr. found work with a Philadelphia construction firm despite his assault record. To reduce recidivism, a new city program offers $10,000 tax credits to businesses that hire ex-offenders and provide them tuition help or vocational training. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Nearly three-quarters of a million prisoners will be released from state and federal prisons this year — an unprecedented number — and about half of them will be returned to prison over the next three years after committing new crimes or violating parole. As the recession makes it harder for ex-prisoners to find jobs and limits states' ability to house rising numbers of inmates, worries about revolving-door incarceration are escalating. Many experts see an answer to the problem in so-called reentry programs, which are designed to lower recidivism by helping soon-to-be-released or newly released prisoners land on their feet, sometimes assisting them in getting jobs before leaving prison. But even after enactment of former President George W. Bush's Second Chance Act, which supports reentry programs, they remain relatively scarce. In fact, in many states, funding for prison needs has overtaken proposals to pay for reentry.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 12, 2019  Bail Reform
Oct. 19, 2018  For-Profit Prisons
Mar. 03, 2017  Women in Prison
Jan. 10, 2014  Sentencing Reform
Sep. 14, 2012  Solitary Confinement
Mar. 11, 2011  Downsizing Prisons
Dec. 04, 2009  Prisoner Reentry
Apr. 06, 2007  Prison Reform
Jan. 05, 2007  Prison Health Care
Sep. 17, 1999  Prison-Building Boom
Feb. 04, 1994  Prison Overcrowding
Oct. 20, 1989  Crime and Punishment: a Tenuous Link
Aug. 04, 1989  Can Prisons Rehabilitate Criminals?
Aug. 07, 1987  Prison Crowding
Nov. 25, 1983  Prison Overcrowding
Feb. 26, 1982  Religious Groups and Prison Reform
Jun. 18, 1976  Criminal Release System
Mar. 12, 1976  Reappraisal of Prison Policy
Oct. 20, 1971  Racial Tensions in Prisons
Oct. 13, 1965  Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Oct. 09, 1957  Prisons and Parole
May 02, 1952  Penal Reform
Jan. 30, 1937  The Future of Prison Industry
May 08, 1930  Prison Conditions and Penal Reform
Unemployment and Employment Programs