Last year, Texas paroled 32,585 prisoners, and many returned to neighborhoods where they live among thousands of other parolees and probationers, says the New York Times. Sunnyside is one of 10 neighborhoods in Houston that together accounted for 15 percent of the city's population, yet received half of the 6,283 prisoners released in Houston in 2005, says the Brooklyn-based Justice Mapping Center. The group has done work for the Texas legislature that helped lead to a $217 million expansion of rehabilitation services.
Neighborhoods like Sunnyside can be found in virtually every big city. Even as violent crime statistics trend downward, incarceration rates throughout the country remain at a historic high of 750 per 100,000 residents. Each year about 650,000 prisoners are released on parole. Parolees almost always come back to areas where support systems, like schools and public assistance programs, receive less money and attention than incarceration does. In an effort to break the cycle, Texas this fall began its expansion of services for former inmates, including job training classes, drug treatment programs, and psychological counseling. The approach is a sharp departure from the state's longtime focus on retribution. Despite declining crime and arrest rates, Texas's prison spending has grown to $2.8 billion a year, tripled since 1990. Decades of tough-on-crime legislation and low parole rates quadrupled the state prison population since 1985.