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How to Reduce Recidivism among Ex-Convicts - Essay Example

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Name ENG 210 23 July 2012 How to Reduce Recidivism among Ex-Convicts Thesis One of the enduring problems of society is the recidivism of ex-convicts. By recidivism, this paper refers to re-incarceration of offenders, who have been released from imprisonment…
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How to Reduce Recidivism among Ex-Convicts

Download file to see previous pages... This paper argues that incarceration alone is not enough to reduce crime rates, especially re-imprisonment rates, and that the best way to reform ex-convicts is to offer them education, rehabilitation, and employment opportunities that will help them re-integrate more successfully into public life. Background For the past twenty years, the costs of maintaining prison cells have expanded more swiftly than other spending categories of state budgets, except for health care expenditures (Sedgley et al. 498). In 2006, the incarcerated reached the population of 1.57 million, and the incarceration rate grew to 1.9% for five years, from 2000 to 2005 (Sedgley et al. 498). Recidivism is a costly problem, considering that out of more than 600,000 prisoners released every year, 5% returns after six months, while 25.4% are re-imprisoned within three years after release (Sedgley et al. 498). Supporters of imprisonment argue that incarceration serves an important deterrent purpose. If this is so effective, however, how come these people are re-imprisoned in as short as six months after their freedom? In this paper’s opinion, they are not prepared yet to become law-abiding citizens, who can find and maintain stable jobs and homes. They need something more than imprisonment to change them; they need society to educate them and to help them deal with their substance abuse problems, if present. Arguments Ex-convicts with substance abuse problems require long-term residential therapeutic system to help them change their attitudes and practices toward illegal drugs. Drugs change how people think, so it means they also need medical and non-pharmacological treatment to wash out these toxins and their effects on their thinking and actions. In “Recidivism among High-Risk Drug Felons: A Longitudinal Analysis Following Residential Treatment,” Belenko et al. studied the effect of participating in Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program on ex-con’s recidivism rate. They used a longitudinal quasi-experimental design that had an experimental sample of 150 offenders and a comparison sample of 130 offenders. Findings showed that diverting drug offenders to DTAP resulted to lower rates of recidivism; yearly arrest rates and the total number of months of new incarceration were considerably reduced; and the time before the first re-arrest was longer. Another study recommends the use of a drug court, so that drug offenders are not lumped with hard-core criminals through incarceration. In “Drug Court: An Effective Alternative to Incarceration,” Kalich and Evans study the effectiveness of the F.I.S.T Drug Court Program in decreasing the recidivism rates of participants, when compared to a control group. Drug courts respond to the “need for public safety by providing extensive monitoring of clients through frequent court contacts, group treatment sessions, and drug testing” (570). Findings showed that dependence on drug court components is directly related to lower rates of recidivism (Kalich and Evans 587). The researchers also learned the importance of determining and utilizing suitable group comparisons in recidivism studies (Kalich and Evans 587). These studies provide compelling evidence that incarceration is not suitable for drug offenders. Instead, they should be coerced to take long-term residential treatment that will persist, until these offenders are fully ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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