Incarceration and Recidivism – Montana

Montana agencies, volunteers work to reintegrate citizens after incarceration, By David Erickson, October 30, 2017, The Missoulian: “Montana’s prison population has grown faster than the national average, and last year 15,000 people in the state were either behind bars or under criminal justice supervision. The state spent $182 million on corrections in fiscal year 2014, and jails and prisons suffer from overcrowding while taxpayers foot the bill…”

Prisoner Reentry

To reduce recidivism, states scrap barriers for ex-offenders, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 27, 2017, Stateline: “To ease prison crowding and rein in corrections spending, state legislatures are trying to help ex-offenders re-enter society with the goal of ensuring they don’t return to prison. People exiting prison often struggle to find work and housing, and many legislators say the law continues to punish them as they are hit with court debt and barred from entering certain professions and, in some places, from getting public assistance…”

Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

Ex-Offenders and Occupational Licenses

To help ex-offenders get jobs, some states reconsider licenses, By Sophie Quinton, March 8, 2017, Stateline: “Robert Lewis didn’t think it would be hard to get a job selling insurance. He was a car salesman for decades and sold insurance for a while after graduating from college. But in Lewis’ home state of Illinois, felons can’t get a license to sell insurance. And in 1985, Lewis was arrested for felony theft.  Lewis says he long ago kicked the drug habit that contributed to his arrest, and these days the 62-year-old can often be found running around after his grandkids.  ‘I was a whole other person back then,’ Lewis said of his Reagan-era brush with the law. But the criminal record derailed his recent job application…”

Housing for Prison Parolees – New York

Parolees to go from big house to Syracuse public housing under new state pilot program, By John O’Brien, March 3, 2017, Syracuse Post-Standard: “Public housing in Syracuse will soon be home to certain newly paroled New York state prisoners under a new pilot program.  The state will allow carefully screened and monitored parolees to live in public housing with their families in Syracuse, White Plains and Schenectady, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.  The goal is to reduce the likelihood that the paroled prisoners will commit new crimes, Cuomo said in a news release…”

Prisoner Reentry

AG Lynch: School system to run in federal prison system, By Kevin Johnson, November 30, 2016, USA Today: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that a school system would be formed within the vast federal prison network as part of a series of efforts to drive down recidivism and create a clearer path for thousands of inmates to re-enter their home communities…”

Prisoner Re-entry

  • Administration aims to fight crime with job training, By Carrie Johnson and Lori Mack, September 20, 2016, National Public Radio: “The Labor Department will hand out $5 million in grants to fund job centers for people coming out of jails, part of a broader Obama administration initiative to help reduce recidivism, NPR has learned. ‘The earlier you start investing in people who are incarcerated, the better the odds of a successful outcome,’ Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in an interview…”
  • Michigan tries to counter boomerang effect with prison job training program, By David Eggert (AP), September 27, 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business: “Few states have been more aggressive in releasing inmates and diverting offenders than Michigan, where a decade ago, one out of every 200 people was in prison, and penal costs were beginning to crowd out basic government services. After easing parole policies, the state managed to cut its 51,000-plus prison population by about 18 percent. But costs kept surpassing $2 billion a year, in part because too many freed inmates came back after committing new crimes or violating parole or probation rules. Now Michigan is trying to stop the boomerang effect with a new program that removes soon-to-be-released inmates from the general population and assigns them to an exclusive ‘vocational village’ for job training…”

Incarceration and Medicaid Coverage – Pennsylvania

Bill aims to make Medicaid enrollment smoother for those leaving jail in Pennsylvania, By Kate Giammarise, July 6, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Medicaid stops at prison and jail walls in Pennsylvania, and getting it started up again can take time.  However, a change in the state’s Human Services code would mean Medicaid is suspended, rather than terminated, for those who are incarcerated. That would allow people who leave prison to be immediately re-enrolled and have health care, rather than having up to 45 days after they leave prison in which they can’t get needed medication…”

Pell Grant Program for Prisoners

12,000 inmates to receive Pell grants to take college classes, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, June 24, 2016, Washington Post: “As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners.  The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities Thursday for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. The schools will work with more than 100 federal and state penitentiaries to enroll inmates who qualify for Pell, a form of federal aid that covers tuition, books and fees for college students with financial need. Prisoners must be eligible for release within five years of enrolling in coursework…”

Baby Nurseries in Prisons

Babies behind bars: Should moms do time with their newborns?, By Colleen Long (AP), May 25, 2016, Arizona Daily Star: “Jennifer Dumas sits on a sofa, her smiling 6-month-old girl on her lap. The room is full of bright toys and children’s books. A rainbow-colored activity mat is on the floor, and Winnie the Pooh is painted on the walls. It looks like any other nursery, except that there are bars on the windows and barbed-wire fences outside the austere brick building. New York’s maximum-security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility is one of the very few prisons in the U.S. that allow inmates and their babies to live together, a century-old approach that not all corrections experts agree is the best way to deal with women locked up while pregnant. Mothers who get such a chance say it’s better than the alternative: In most prisons, babies born behind bars must be given up within a day to a relative or foster care…”

Families of Prisoners

One in nine black children has had a parent in prison, By Danielle Paquette, October 27, 2015, Washington Post: “Five percent of the global population lives in the United States, but nearly a quarter of the world’s inmates are locked in American prisons. We know our incarceration rate, among the highest on the planet, is costly — and reports show the staggering number of people behind bars hasn’t significantly reduced crime.  And now a new study, published Tuesday, adds another issue to the national debate over how to punish nonviolent offenders: the health and well-being of their children…”

Phone Rates for Prison Inmates

FCC votes to further cut cost of calls for inmates, By Heather Hollingsworth (AP), October 22, 2015, Washington Post: “The Federal Communications Commission’s decision Thursday to take additional steps to slash how much can be charged for phone calls made from jails and prisons was hailed as removing a burden on families and criticized as a budget buster for some facilities.  FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, said before the vote in Washington that the cost of the calls have placed ‘incredible burdens’ on the families of the more than 2 million people incarcerated in the U.S…”

Medicaid Coverage for Former Prisoners – Ohio

State pushes Medicaid sign-ups for inmates, By Alan Johnson, July 28, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “In the old days, inmates got $75 and a one-way bus ticket when they got out of an Ohio prison. Now, they can get something more valuable — a Medicaid card. Three state agencies are aggressively pushing to get the majority of the roughly 21,000 people who are released from prison every year enrolled in Medicaid up to 90 days before they walk out the door. Services don’t begin until they are released, unless they are hospitalized. Having a Medicaid card means former prisoners immediately qualify for health care, mental-health services and prescription drugs. In the past, ex-offenders were typically released with a small supply of their medications and had to go to county agencies to apply for health-care services, a process that often took 45 days or longer.  Delays in getting medication and treatment are crucial because many people in Ohio prisons have mental-health and addiction issues…”

Ex-Offenders and Health Care

Linking released inmates to health care, By Michael Ollove, June 11, 2015, Stateline: “Joe Calderon faced uncomfortably high odds of dying after his release from a California prison in 2010. According to one study, his chances of dying within two weeks — especially from a drug overdose, heart disease, homicide or suicide — were nearly 13 times greater than for a person who had never been incarcerated.  Despite suffering from hypertension during his 17 years and three days of incarceration, Calderon was lucky. He stumbled onto a city of San Francisco program that paid for health services for ex-offenders, and he was directed to Transitions Clinic, which provides comprehensive primary care for former prisoners with chronic illnesses. The clinic saw to all his health needs in the months after his release.  An increasing number of states are striving to connect released prisoners like Calderon to health care programs on the outside…”

States and Prisoner Re-entry

States try to remove barriers for ex-offenders, By Rebecca Beitsch, June 18, 2015, Stateline: “Raymond Daughton has been out of prison for 36 days. When he got out he was homeless, had no clothes and no money. All his belongings from his old apartment have disappeared. Daughton, 31, doesn’t want to get into trouble again, so he is staying out of his old neighborhood—one of the roughest parts of Baltimore—and distancing himself from some friends.   The past month has been a struggle of moving from couch to couch, scrounging some cash for a suit and tie, and applying for as many jobs as he can. Getting a job consumes him. He doesn’t care what he does; he just wants to earn enough money to gain custody of his two boys and support them. But he’s worried no one will want to hire someone with a conviction for handgun possession who also served a previous prison sentence.  An estimated 70 million people are trying to navigate the world with a criminal record, according to the National Employment Law Project. Some states, concerned with the high costs of keeping people locked up, are reevaluating and removing some of the roadblocks that ex-offenders face when they are released. The goal: to increase the chances they’ll succeed in society and lessen the chances they’ll return to prison…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Out of prison, out of work: Ex-inmates face struggles after release, By Rick Barrett, March 29, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Finding a job is hard enough these days, but finding one when you have a criminal record can be all but impossible.  James Daniels knows. After spending nearly three years in prison for a drug crime — possession of marijuana with intent to deliver — he was released March 31, 2012, only to learn that some potential employers couldn’t see past the felony…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Our criminal justice system is making it really hard for people to find jobs, By Jonathan Blanks, September 30, 2014, Washington Post: “Although the American economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, many people still struggle to find jobs. Politicians blame taxation, trade policies and automation. Some have even singled out the current welfare system. Often overlooked? The many punitive effects of the criminal justice system. Nearly 65 million Americans have a criminal record. This black mark carries with it potentially mandatory restrictions on jobs, housing, education and public assistance. As detailed in a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers study, the federal government and every state imposes some sort of ‘collateral consequence’ to arrests or convictions…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Alaska

Alaska prisoner re-entry center targets recidivism, By Michelle Theriault Boots, October 2, 2013, Anchorage Daily News: “Each year more than a thousand inmates who have served their sentences are released in Anchorage, often in the parking lot of the city jail. Many go straight to a homeless shelter. Almost half will be jailed for committing a new crime within three years, according to a 2011 Pew Center for the States report. That’s the highest rate in the nation. Now Anchorage, where more felons are released than any other place in Alaska, has its first walk-in ‘re-entry’ center, just a few blocks from the jail…”

Prison Sentencing and Poverty

Prison and the poverty trap, By John Tierney, February 18, 2013, New York Times: “Why are so many American families trapped in poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton. For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage together…”