How Government Anticrime Agenda Has Shifted to Prisoner Re-Entry Since the ’90s


Dave Dahl’s company makes a line of wildly successful organic breads in Portland, Or., a success he achieved after spending 15 years in prison, reports the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. Dahl's story–from meth addict to business–reflects an unhappy slice of Americana that exploded over the last generation. When Dahl left high school in 1981, 555,000 Americans were serving time. When he left prison in 2004, 2.1 million were behind bars.

The newspaper uses the story of Dahl's recovery after four failures involving drug abuse to tell how government at various levels is promoting prisoner re-entry. The story goes back to the 1990s when Attorney General Janet Reno asked Jeremy Travis, then head of the National Institute of Justice and now president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “What are we doing for all the people coming home from prison?” Spurred by federal funding and the need to control their own costs, states began experimenting with alternatives, and by 2012, more than half the states had comprehensive “justice reinvestment” programs, which aimed to shift resources from incarceration toward treatment and prevention.

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