The USA has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other nation. Our crime rate is higher than that of any other advanced nation. The majority of persons released from prison in the US - estimates run as high as 70% - are convicted of new crimes within five years.
We make "convicted felons" an untouchable class, locking them out of normal society and worthwhile employment, making continued crime all the more attractive. Instead of facilitating prisoner re-entry, we strain to make it difficult, and impossible for some.
The Criminal Justice System needs to make the following changes:
1. Our public safety planning is too shortsighted. It would be better to spend more on intensive probation and scientifically based rehabilitation programs now, and less on more and bigger prisons tomorrow. Too many people including decision-makers believe "rehabilitation doesn't work" although research proves otherwise!
2. Our sentencing policies are inconsistent, often too lenient for violent crimes and too harsh for non-violent crimes.
3. Pay police officers a decent wage, and compensate them for continued education. Improve their benefit packages, and make police work a worthwhile career. At the same time, make them models of lawful, civilized behavior.
4. Prisons need to increase their rehabilitative and re-entry programs.
5. The Federal Prison System needs to bring back the Parole Board for federal prisoners.
6. Parole needs to be configured for program completions and accomplishments. The Parole Board needs to meet with the offender within one year of her/his commitment, at which time a program contract is agreed on, based on pre-sentence recommendations and institutional screening recommendations.
2. Vocational Trade
3. 500 Hours of Counseling or
a. 500 Hour Drug Program
4. Save $2,500 Inmate Wages
5. Pre-Release Program
6. Clean Conduct
7. When the offender completes the program contract, they are taken back before the Parole Board. And released on parole with whatever guidelines imposed by the sentencing court, Parole Board and supervising Parole Officer.
8. Get those rehabilitated former offenders involved in teaching others. Bring them into colleges, gang counselors, jails, law enforcement advisors, prisons, schools and youth groups to speak and tell their own success stories. Use them in a kind of big brother program; people can call on for advice, encouragement, help.