Study on Prisoner Re-entry in Texas

This is true, I’m not kidding.

Last week, a report, which cost over two million dollars, was released to the public.

The name of this report was “A Portrait of prisoner re-entry in Texas”. As much as I know you are rushing out of the door to obtain your own copy, stop right where you are and read on. I’ll give you the gist of what this is all about. The study, which took over three years to complete’ basically states that criminals who are being released back into society from prison are going home to the poorer parts of our society.

This is news’ This is what we get for two million dollars’someone actually spent three years researching this information’ How do I get one of these jobs’

I suspect any police officer in the country would have been able to tell you this information for much less money’ maybe just a cup of coffee. What were these people thinking’

Of course the majority of paroled ex-cons end up back in the neighborhood they came from. The reason they were convicted in the first place is mainly because they are poor. They don’t have a job; they don’t have any money so they resort to drugs and theft to stay alive. They get arrested, they get convicted and when they get released, where do they go’ Home, where else’ They don’t get to move into some swanky downtown high-rise as a reward for serving time.

Sure we see rich people getting arrested and convicted of various crimes, but usually not the type of crimes being discussed in this report. Nope, the big rich guys get convicted of stealing mega millions, spending mega millions on lawyers and then if convicted coming back into society to spend some of that looted cash or write a book about their experiences. The book advances alone are more than the average criminal will ever earn in a lifetime. Is this fair’ I didn’t say it was, but it’s a fact of life. I don’t watch television programs, read articles or books authored by ex convicts. Somehow it doesn’t feel right to me to put more money into the pockets of someone who was caught stealing in the first place and then tries to get richer as a result of the experience.

No, this report is dealing with convicts who come from a poor neighborhood, commit some crime and then get released back into that same neighborhood. Is this good, perhaps not, but here again, it’s a fact of life.

So, what’s the answer’ Well, for one thing I feel we shouldn’t allow anyone to be released from prison unless they can read and write. You want to get in a bad mood’ Look at the national averages for illiteracy for ex-convicts, it’s a disgrace. If we failed to require our citizens to obtain an education while attending school, then we failed. Obviously the teacher can’t be held responsible for all of the social ills they must face, but let’s get real here. If someone can’t read and write before they are sent off to prison, what kind of a chance do they have if they can’t read and write when they come out of a prison’

With the present overcrowding situation in our jails and prisons throughout the country, the emphasis is on releasing the inmates sooner and sooner. This poses a number of problems. It overtaxes our current resources by trying to absorb these individuals back into our societies when they cannot find work to support themselves. It also places a burden on the neighborhoods since they often become the victims of crime again from the parolees once they are released. The poorer elements of our society gets shafted by those living next door, a self-perpetuating cycle of misery.

I wish we could wave a magic wand and make this problem go away, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I think I would have rather heard of two million bucks being spent on trying to find better ways to rehabilitate convicts so they will be better prepared to cope with society instead of telling us things most of us already know. Surely, we’re not the only country in the world to be experiencing this problem. Isn’t there someone out there doing a better job than we are’ If so, who is it and what can we do to copy it’

Like someone once told me? “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”.

How true, how true’