The Oregonian reports that the number of programs designed to help convicts transition from prison to life outside is increasing as the corrections cost crisis is pushing more cons onto the street. As one recently released female ex-convict put it, “They don’t want us selling drugs, don’t want us stealing or selling our bodies.” But with no money, she says, “what are we supposed to do?” It’s a question elected leaders, judges, corrections officials and social service providers around the country struggle to answer.
In Oregon, nearly 400 inmates are released from prison each month. Thirty percent of them end up back behind bars within three years. In hopes of lowering the number who return, the state is increasing programs to help inmates make the transition to life out of prison. With corrections costing Oregon $1.4 billion for the next two years — more than the state spends on higher education — it may be cheaper to help former inmates on the outside than to pay for them to come back.