States are giving more attention to supporting offenders as they reenter life outside prison. Massachusetts leaders are proposing that all felons be supported by supervision as they transition out of prison, says the Christian Science Monitor. The state joins cities and states from Rhode Island to Ohio in focusing on the reentry phase. The Massachusetts legislation would pair each inmate with a case manager who would help develop a plan to find work, housing, and alcohol and drug counseling. The mandatory supervision would last at least nine months and often much longer – one-quarter of the prisoners’ maximum sentences.
Now, 40 percent of Massachusetts inmates are not supervised at all after their release, roughly twice the national average. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey says that it costs $43,000 to keep one person in prison, so the state could save $1 million for every one percent of recidivism deterred. James Austin of the JFA Institute in Washington, D.C., a research center on corrections, says current re-entry programs don’t serve enough people, that corrections should rely more on community services, and that there is little data to measure whether programs are working. “There’s been a lot of talk,” he says, “but it still needs to be implemented properly.”