MA’s Clarke: Answer Inmate Needs Or Create New Victims


Harold Clarke, Massachusetts corrections commissioner, wants to move beyond “lock ’em up” penal policy, reports Governing magazine. “We are looking at over 2 million people incarcerated” nationally, he says. “If we fail to respond to their needs, they will go out and create more victims.”

Clarke, born 56 years ago in Panama to Jamaican parents, started working in the Nebraska corrections system while in college. He ended up serving as commissioner for 15 years, earning a national reputation as a reformer and manager obsessed with data. He moved to Washingon State in 2005, then to Massaschusetts. Everyone is not thrilled with Clarke’s policies. Last month, after the Boston Herald ran a positive profile of him, a reader responded sarcastically that “The next time a woman is raped, a man is robbed and beaten, or a child is killed by one of these misguided souls fresh out of prison, just take solace in the fact that he can now read “Catcher in the Rye” and solve an algebra problem while doing it.”


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