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Monday, August 14, 2006

Many States Attempting to Ease Offenders Back into Society

From NYTimes.com: Rhode Island is among the states beginning to make progress in easing offenders’ re-entry to society with the goal of bringing the revolving door to a halt, or at least slowing it. But sometimes it can be hard to see much of a difference.

The 1980’s and 90’s were an era of get-tough, no-frills punishment; inmate populations climbed to record levels while education and training withered. Prisoners with little chance of getting a job and histories of substance abuse were sent home without help.

Now a countertrend is gathering force, part of an unfolding transformation in the way the criminal justice system deals with repeat offenders. After punishment has been meted out and time has been served, political leaders, police officers, corrections officials, churches and community groups are working together to offer so-called re-entry programs, many modest in scope but remarkable nonetheless.

Inmates now meet with planners before their release to explore housing, drug treatment and job possibilities. Once the inmates are back outside, churches and community groups have been enlisted to take them by the hand and walk them through the transition home.

“What we’re witnessing is a great turning of the wheel in corrections policy,” said Ashbel T. Wall II, the Rhode Island corrections director. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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