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Re-Entry Programs & Recidivism: The Connection Continued
By Bradley Schwartz
Published: 03/24/2014

San Francisco understands what is necessary in order to lower recidivism and prison overcrowding. Unlike many probation departments and prison systems, San Francisco’s counselors look to what is needed for a released inmate in terms of housing, employment, health care, and drug rehabilitation. The probation department has even picked up returning citizens from prisons to bring back to their homes in San Francisco.

San Francisco was confronted about 18 years ago with a court order about prison over crowding similar to the federal order presently facing the state of California. Instead of continuing to incarcerate as many inmates as possible, the city, through the efforts of a local prosecutor, Paul Henderson, focused on turning an ex-offender into a productive member of society. This goal of re-integration for the returning citizens required judges, prosecutors, probation officers, law enforcement to work with social workers, nonprofit advocates and public defenders.

San Francisco realized that long prison sentences were not a deterrent to crime. If long sentences were effective, then California would not have the problem of excessive prison overcrowding. Barry Krisberg, senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, noted that, “Everything we know from the most rigorous research suggests if you want to reduce recidivism rates, you have to address housing, security, availability of jobs, and social connections." A substantial number of inmates are incarcerated for non-violent crimes and they have the best chance for reintegration into society, if they receive appropriate assistance.

It is not rocket science. We do not need further studies to prove that a released inmate, who is employed, has safe housing, and is enrolled in the appropriate rehabilitation program, is unlikely to become another number in a high recidivism rate. In the end, with such programs for re-integration, society will benefit from a lower crime rate, less prisons, reduced social costs, and more productive citizens.

Bradley D. Schwartz was an attorney for thirty five years and an inmate for fifteen months. As an attorney, he practiced criminal law and medical malpractice claims. At the age of sixty two, he was incarcerated for fifteen months in the Maryland state prison system for a nonviolent economic crime.

After his release, he launched Prison Path in 2012 to help inmate’s families and first time nonviolent defendants face prison. Prison Path provides extensive information about every prison and jail in the United States, posts articles every week about the numerous problems confronting our prison systems and answers questions daily from inmate’s families and individuals facing prison.


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