For many who get in trouble with the law, going to prison can become a revolving-door experience. Breaking that cycle, and helping people get out and stay out of prison, can go a long way toward decreasing crime, reducing corrections costs and reforming the criminal justice system.
That’s why a relatively new anti-recidivism effort in Minnesota should be supported and expanded. A recent Star Tribune news story described Minnesota’s federal re-entry court, a program that’s making significant headway in reducing recidivism. The initiative approaches typical court proceedings in a different way. Rather than the typical adversarial model, judges and other federal criminal justice officials volunteer time to sit at a table with released ex-inmates who are at high risk to re-offend.
The program is one of about 60 across the nation, but is reportedly the only one that places participants with mentors from the community. Now in its third year, the effort has reduced recidivism from 73 percent of Minnesota’s highest-risk federal inmates to 27 percent. The story featured the 12th graduate of the 18-month program, a Hudson woman the story identified only by her first name, Moneer, who has turned her life around with the help of criminal justice officials.
Keeping former offenders out of prison is a smart component of criminal justice reform on many levels. It’s good for the inmate because getting out and staying out of jail opens up opportunities to go to school, get training, find employment and help support a family.
Society benefits as well. The $30,000 per year it costs the federal government to support an inmate can be devoted to areas such as education, health care and infrastructure. Reducing prison recidivism can also decrease crime and allow more former offenders to become contributing members of their communities.
Read the full article on Star Tribune