Crime could be reduced and tax money saved by better programs to help prisoners re-enter society, says a bipartisan national council. The Re-Entry Policy Council, coordinated by the Council of State Governments, issued a report almost four years in the making that includes hundreds of recommendations to improve treatment of former inmates. “Nearly 650,000 people will be released from prison this year, and 7 million will be released from jails,” said Timothy Ryan, chief of the Orange County, Fl., Corrections Department. “Every policymaker should be concerned about the public safety and fiscal implications of these extraordinary numbers.”
The council is made up of more than 100 policymakers, law enforcement, corrections, and health and social service agencies. Its report notes that government spending on corrections increased from $9 billion annually in 1982 to $60 billion two decades later. Still, two third of released prisoners are arrested again within three years. The council said the fastest growing category of new prison admissions are those who were under criminal justice system supervision. “Ensuring successful re-entry means both safer communities and the improved use of tax dollars,” the group said. Its report includes 35 consensus policy statements and recommendations to implement them, including examples of existing programs around the country.