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( CharlotteS )

Comments made by CharlotteS

15 Years After 'Three Strikes' Law, Calif. Prisons Packed

California has the highest recidivism rate nationwide. San Diego has the highest rate of recidivism state-wide. Prisons are extremely overcrowded, and their populations continue to expand as funding for rehabilitation programs contracts. Currently four people I've worked with as volunteers for community service as part of their respective programs, all male, are in correctional facilities in the county. All four of these men were parolees who have returned to the system in violation of the terms of their parole. In the past ten months four other men, who I've worked with in the same capacity, have been released from prisons in the county. I have a very different perspective on this topic, having put a face (faces) on the issue.
The problem, in my opinion, is being released and re-released into the same area where the original crime, and violation took place. I've developed a rapport with the convicts that work with me, and corresponded with some while they have been incarcerated. These men all sincerely state that they are going to rehabilitate and "straighten up and fly right" once they are released. This purposeful and wholehearted desire to do well, to get it right this time, often lasts less than a month. The system seems to be set up to fail. Ex-convicts often have trouble finding a job that provides a liveable source of income, finding a place to live, and finding a new social group to interact with. The earnest attempts to get their lives on track are abandoned after failing to meet the goals. Once beaten down by a series of rejections and having no support system aside from the network of friends (who are usually involved in the criminal community), it is easy to seek out companionship in old friends and in turn become involved in activities that are in violation of parole terms.
I don't know what the solution to this problem is, but exit programs for recently released inmates seem to be invaluable. Clearly the exit programs available now need to be revised and improved. I hope this happens in the near future.

October 9, 2009 at 10:07 a.m. ( | suggest removal )