“Graduated Re-Entry” Advocated To Give Inmates “A Little Freedom At A Time”


A system of “graduated re-entry–giving prisoners a little freedom at at time,” could help reform the “disaster” that is the prison state in the U.S., write Mark Kleiman, Angela Hawken and Ross Halperin in Vox.com. It is a “completely unnecessary disaster,” the authors say. “It’s simply not true that to punish someone and control his behavior you need to lock him up and pay for his room and board.” As things stand, releasing prisoners with $40, sketchy if any identification documents, and no enrollment for basic income support, housing, or health insurance “is a formula for failure.”

“We need to learn to substitute effective supervision for physical confinement,” say Kleiman and colleagues. “That’s the idea behind graduated re-entry.” The authors say, “If someone needed to be locked up yesterday, he shouldn’t be completely at liberty today. And he shouldn’t be asked to go from utter dependency to total self-sufficiency in one flying leap. He needs both more control and more support. Neither alone is likely to do the job.” Because control and support both cost money, they write, “”The trick is to start the re-entry process before what would otherwise have been the release date, so the money you spend in the community is balanced by the money you’re not spending on a cell.”

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