Florida must drastically reform training programs for prisoners, and local communities must help provide jobs and other support for newly released prison inmates if the state wants to reduce repeat-offender crime. So says Vicki Lopez Lukis, chairwoman of the Governor’s Ex-Offender Task Force, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Lukis said the 30,000 inmates returning home from Florida prisons annually must receive more assistance or they will return to drugs, theft or other violent crimes. “Twenty-five percent of those who come home will commit a new crime and serve time for the new crime within three years,” Lukis said. “We can find money to put them away. We need to find money so they don’t cause us problems when they come home.”
Lukis’s panel recommends that the prison system make reintegration of inmates part of its mission statement; attack rampant illiteracy and drug abuse among offenders; and seek out more support from employers, local governments, social-service agencies and faith-based organizations. With Florida’s prison population at 90,000 and growing — third behind California and Texas — Lukis said more tax dollars for prevention and education programs could help cut the $148 million spent annually to prosecute repeat offenders.