BOSTON – In an effort to reduce troubling rates of crime by former inmates, states are increasingly focusing attention on a crucial period of opportunity and risk - supporting offenders as they reenter life outside prison.
Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R), who is leading the effort (in Massachusetts) said last week 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. According to a study in 2002 by the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 49 percent of state prisoners reoffend within a year of their release.
Other statistics lie behind the national movement, too. Over 600,000 prisoners are released each year from the nation's correctional facilities, and the recidivism rate - two-thirds - has remained stable for 30 years.
With 2 million people behind bars and tight budgets making it impossible to keep building prisons, "more and more communities are realizing it's in their best interest to shepherd this transition so that communities can be safe," says Peggy Burke, a principal at the Center for Effective Public Policy, a Maryland think tank.