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Community Supervision

Transitioning back into society after prison can be hard for many as a lot can change in the world depending on how much time is spent behind bars. New technology evolves, jobs are more complicated and harder to acquire, and many face barriers economically when it comes to providing a stable lifestyle for themselves. Released individuals lack the support and resources to successfully enter society again, as there is a bare minimum of reentry programs and assistance available. 

There are currently over 2.3 million people spending some of their life incarcerated, but once released, they struggle with what comes next. The Politico published an article about five new policy ideas for fixing life after prison and the reentry system that affects so many. Individuals released from prison face huge obstacles when rebuilding their lives and many end up back in prison, as “according to one study, almost 70 percent are re-arrested within three years.” The next major criminal justice reform initiative is working to provide rehabilitative and reentry support to individuals to successfully become part of society again. COVID-19 has prompted the release of individuals in prison to help reduce overcrowding, prompting even more support for reentry initiatives.

The Politico goes into detail about the five topics that lead to new initiatives to help reduce recidivism and provide useful support and skills for life after incarceration. With reentry comes a link between recidivism and homelessness. Tackling homelessness can reduce jail overcrowding as many facilities’ populations are comprised of homeless people who steal, suffer from mental health issues or simply commit a crime to have a place to stay. Another study found that beginning reentry programs while individuals are still incarcerated can drastically decreased recidivism and sets up that individual to live a more successful life with learned skills. Additionally, educating society on criminal records and the different levels of crime classification can reduce the stigma associated with ‘having a record’. Many face barriers when it comes to applying for jobs and housing due to their past. There are high unemployment rates for previously incarcerated individuals, but this is being solved through facilities helping inmates find jobs before release. This ensures one less thing they have to do and sets them up on the right track to live a stable life. Finally, assisting in obtaining proper identification would help individuals be successful with reentry as it can be hard for many to do so. These are just the bare minimum of problems when it comes to reentry that solving would extremely benefit individuals.

There are many programs, resources and technology available for offenders and agencies to deploy. TRACKtech has created and developed an evidence-based, data-driven, mobile platform that offers comprehensive rehabilitation and compliance monitoring capabilities. Our solution enhances communication, monitors risks and provides an approach to enhance recovery and support reentry requirements within the criminal justice industry. TRACKtech solutions can help PO’s support their clients by providing behavioral health programs, reentry programs, life support skills and programs, and access to housing, education and job listings. If you have questions about how our products and services can benefit an agency, please reach out to us at sales@tracktechllc.com. There is so much to be done to make the entry to reentry process smooth and seamless for those involved in the process and we are here to help.

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Justice Reform

Prison sentences, whether short or lengthy, affect the health and well-being of every inmate. Russell Webster published an article about why so many people are dying in prisons. Many die from natural causes but at an alarming younger age compared to those not serving time, as “the average age for someone dying of natural causes in prisons is 56, compared with 81 in the general population.” The number of natural deaths in prisons has risen from 103 in June 2009 to 179 in June 2020. Many facilities are looking at what causes these prison deaths and what can be done to prevent them, especially during the times when COVID-19 can dramatically affect individual’s health.

As defined by HMPPS, natural cause deaths are “any death of a person as a result of a naturally occurring disease process.” However, in some cases, prison deaths could have been prevented as stated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) and Coroners, even though they were classified as naturally occurring. These deaths are avoidable but due to harsh prison living conditions there continues to be an increase in the rising number of deaths.

Many prisons are understaffed, overcrowded and face many barriers when it comes to providing basic care and resources for inmates and staff. Another big factor is access to healthcare. “The PPO have found that care is particularly poor for the youngest age groups (15-34 years), with just over half receiving equivalent care compared to that received in the community.” Many individuals have underlying health issues that only worsen as time goes on and they do not have sufficient access to healthcare while imprisoned. It was found that only 36% of prisoners received proper and timely investigations of their symptoms, which is an alarming rate.

Facilities are pressed for resources and providing care as they are understaffed, causing individuals to be neglected of care and treatments. More focus should be going towards providing healthcare services to incarcerated individuals, as many prison deaths are preventable with the proper resources and these individuals deserve to have the same lifespan as those not behind bars.

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Recidivism

ABC released an article following the story of a convicted man, Micah Turner, and his hopes to reduce recidivism. He was convicted of three charges of manslaughter of his daughter, son and brother-in-law in after rolling his car. He originally was only sentenced to ten years’ probation with two years of house arrest, but then served eight years in prison after breaking his probation. He eventually came to terms with himself and what he had done while being incarcerated. He had a lot of time to reflect and when he was released realized how hard it is to return to society.

From his experience, He said the prison facility gives you a bus ticket and $50 upon release but offer no other programs or help once inmates are released. It makes life very difficult for individuals and leads to higher rates of recidivism. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, one-third of inmates released return to Florida prisons within five years of their prison release date. In order to help fight this number and offer assistance to inmates being released from prison, Turner came up with a solution.

Turner and his wife started collecting items such as  clothing and toiletries to give to men and women when they get out of prison. They create small care packages for people to help their transition back into society. With these packages people have a better chance of providing for themselves leading to less recidivism. They are hoping to continue to be able to provide for those and help rehabilitate former inmates into society.

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Recidivism

A program aimed at decreasing juvenile recidivism and conviction of crimes was created a year ago in Southwest Virginia, according to an article published by the SWVA Today. The program is called Functional Family Therapy services and was created to intervene with youth before they get too involved in the criminal justice system. The program offers family-based treatment and diversion services by working with juveniles who suffer from substance use and behavioral or emotional issues. However, this program is working on trying to intervene in a different way than the usual standard. It requires that all of the child’s family participate in the program, as it makes therapy for the child more effective and for their siblings as well if they have any. This helps reduce the risk of their siblings becoming involved in crimes as well.

The program was finally able to launch after receiving the funding it needed. It focuses on youth in the age ranges of 11 to 18, who are referred by their probation officers. The therapy providers also travel to the children’s homes to eliminate and help with transportation issues. It also helps the families and children feel more comfortable and willing to participate as it is in a place where they feel safe and welcomed. “The 29th Judicial District already has a handful of youth enrolled in the program” and are hoping to expand the program even more. They feel it is working and helping reduce recidivism rates in juveniles. Also, it is helping keep their siblings out of jail by providing the services in home and looking to educate youth to keep them off the streets.

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Community Supervision

The term parole has had a long-standing pessimistic view from people as many believe that individuals serving parole will reoffend. They also have the stigma that every criminal is violent and that people on parole should not be released as they are dangerous or criminal. According to an article by the Justice Center, The Council of State Governments, “with data to back them up, some states have started to challenge that way of thinking and turn pessimistic parole into “presumptive parole.”

For example, Vermont recently passed legislation that requires a growing approach in state corrections systems related to parole. They are using a form of reverse psychology where they assume parole-eligible people should be released unless there is a good reason not to. The reasoning behind this leads others that are incarcerated to participate in and finish required programming so that they are eligible for parole. Vermont’s legislation requires people to meet their minimum sentence requirement and key criteria related to good behavior while incarcerated, and then reviews parole candidates within 30 days of the individuals parole eligibility date.

For now, there are two stages of presumptive parole, first in 2021 where parole for people convicted of nonviolent offenses is established and then in 2023 parole will expand to include more types of eligible offenses. Vermont is just one of a few states that has been changing parole policies and redefining it to improve public safety, reduce corrections spending and reinvest in strategies to reduce recidivism. It is a step in the right direction regarding justice reform and helping individuals be less stigmatized when released. Most individuals on parole are working very hard to change their lives around and take advantage of their second chance. 

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Public Safety

An article published by the Baltimore Sun earlier this year highlights how locking young people up will not result in less crime. New legislation and initiatives are being created in the hopes of addressing crime and violence in Baltimore. The crime rates among youth are due to many of them living in poverty conditions and having experienced trauma. These factors are hard ones to deal with when it comes to addressing crime rates and violence. A program was created named the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success that successfully looks at coordinating with city and community partners to address youth crime. The office launched BmoreLive to provide meaningful and entertaining programming for youth to enhance public safety and keep them occupied off the streets.

This programming helped keep crime rates down in juveniles and has shown to be effective. With identifying gaps in services and partnering with community actors, the BmoreLive is working to reduce youth crime and promoting better youth development. A punitive system is not helpful when fighting against crime in youth. Incarcerating youth does not teach them right from wrong when it comes to crime and does reduce their mentality surrounding the issue. When a child is incarcerated at a young age, it is very likely that they will commit another crime and end up in prison as an adult. Further, locking children up can lead to suffrage from trauma sustained in prison or mental health issues.

Because of these issues surrounding young incarceration, policy-makers are investing in more community-based services and programs that work on reducing incarceration and recidivism in youth populations. Putting juveniles behind bars does not solve public safety issues and does not result in less crime. Prevention efforts and justice reform for youth is necessary when it comes to keeping them occupied and committing less crime.  

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Recidivism

Recidivism has been a long-standing issue in the United States. Many are working to reduce recidivism rates and help people integrate better back into society after incarceration. Individuals struggle with having someplace to go and support when released from prison, which leads them to recidivate.

One solution to reducing recidivism is providing higher education as described in an article by the UCI. Since 2014, all 35 California state penitentiaries have partnered with community colleges to provide those incarcerated the chance to earn an associate degree. Further, UCI has launched an initiative, Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Education Degrees, that is the first in-prison B.A. completion program offered by the University of California . This will allow for those incarcerated to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

With “at least 95 percent of people in California prisons return[ing] to their communities”, most lack the skills and resources to be able to compete and succeed in today’s job market. With the help of the program, those who complete the program with at least a 3.5 GPA are automatically able to fully enroll in UCI once released. This breaks down the barrier of individuals lacking an education, not being able to get one and helping set them up for a better future and being part of a safer community for all.

The program is working hard to change the lives of those affected by incarceration in California and providing second, supportive chances at life. People deserve an education and to turn their lives around even if they have struggled in the past. Lowering recidivism rates through education makes the community safer and turns the lives around of people working hard to do so.

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Recidivism

Many youth struggle with being on the right path in life. It is easy to get swept up in street gangs, violence and drugs when that’s all their family knows and when they are not supported as children should be. The world is a hard place and many lives go in the wrong direction, like Dyjuan Tatro’s did. He dropped out of high school around the 10th grade to sell drugs and a few years later was sentenced to prison for assault. This is just one of the many stories you hear about a juvenile’s life taking a turn for the worse. However, he was able to turn it around by finishing his education while incarcerated.

The Politico published an article about the high recidivism rates in the United States and how we have the answer to solving this problem at the tip of our fingers, educating incarcerated individuals. In the United States, individuals who are released from prison often return to a life of crime and have a hard time turning their lives around once incarcerated. PEW found in a study that in 23 states, 37% of released individuals in 2012 returned to prison within three years and 46% released in 2010 returned to prison within five years. Recidivism is an issue as many individuals in prison did not finish school and lack the resources and support to return to life once they are released.

Access to schooling and receiving an education is slowly increasing in prison systems. A correlation has been found between those who complete their education while incarcerated and lower recidivism rates. Fewer than 3% of graduates of Bard Prison Initiative in New York, returned to prison compared to over 30% of individuals released from the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision returning to prison. Providing an education for incarcerated individuals helps them get back on their feet and sets them up for success when released, which reduces recidivism and saves public funds that would be spent looking after people in jail or prison.

However, having access to an education was difficult until the Department of Education announced its Second Chance Pell Pilot Program in 2015. “By expanding educational opportunities for some people behind bars, the program aimed to help individuals returning home acquire work, financially support their families and claim a second chance for a better life.” The program only currently allows around 10,000 students to receive funding to attend classes at certain institutions, turning away hundreds of thousands who are eligible for the funding. If the number of individuals allowed to receive funding increased, recidivism rates would go down drastically as many would have the opportunity to receive an education while incarcerated.

Thankfully, in July, lawmakers introduced legislation to repeal the Pell Grant ban in July. There are many success stories like Dyjuan Tatro’s but also so many that slip through the cracks who could benefit from receiving an education while incarcerated. It reduces recidivism and can make or break an individual’s life when it comes to supporting themselves once released.

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Justice Reform

The Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice published a statement highlighting the need for justice in youth prisons. The United States criminal justice system like many other systems has flaws. The U.S. has long been the global leader in youth incarceration, as it locks young people up at a higher rate than any other nation. This effects not only the youth, but also their families and social ties by creating trauma and burdens on all. Youth incarceration is overused, as well as ineffective and inefficient when it comes to changing their behavior and positively influencing them.

More cities are realizing that in order to keep youth off the streets and out of jail, they need to have access to community programs and rehabilitative resources. Adolescents are still growing and developing when they are convicted of crimes and sitting in jail does not help them develop or learn from their mistakes. Punitive measures are becoming less and less conducive to changing the behavior of individuals, especially youth. Proper intervention for youth at risk of committing crimes is beneficial for the individual and public safety.

Racism also plays a heavy role in youth incarceration. With justice reform being a prominent topic right now, racism must also be addressed in youth prison systems. By dismantling youth prison systems, it protects children from physical and mental abuse, addresses the problem of racism, and provides alternatives to programs that will help steer adolescents in the right direction.

The joint statement by Fair and Just Prosecution and Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice on Youth Prisons highlights all of these issues and how improving youth corrections will improve public safety, reduce recidivism and keep children from falling into the revolving door of the criminal justice system. There needs to be positive and supportive change in their lives for them to realize the potential they have. Rehabilitation is the new ‘punishment’, in the hopes of helping adolescents stay out of prison and creating second chances for them.

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Recidivism
Hudson Link, with the help of Mount Saint Mary College, will help provide access to higher education at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility. The article goes into detail about how two dozen incarcerated men will have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences. “The Hudson Link and Mount Saint Mary College will facilitate the program at the correctional facility”, providing the opportunity for people incarcerated to earn a higher education.

Hudson Link is a nonprofit that provides college education, life skills, and reentry support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. They hope to help make a positive impact on the lives of the prisoners and their families and communities. With providing access to a higher education, they also hope to reduce recidivism rates and poverty because prisoners will be able to attain better jobs. The recidivism rate for people who have completed the Hudson Link program is less than 3% and they have high hopes it will stay this low. The numbers for men being accepted into the program are growing and increasing their access to earning the bachelor’s degree. So far 21 men are scheduled to complete the degree in two years, which helps the employability once released from prison.

Pursuing a degree while incarcerated can be difficult but thanks to companies and institutions like Hudson Link and Mount Saint Mary College, degrees are attainable. They want to continue to help reduce recidivism rates and provide access to education for incarcerated individuals.
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