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Help reduce the recidivism rates in Florida.

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The correctional system as it exists today creates a class of people, which upon their release from prison are utterly unprepared to reenter society in any meaningful capacity. These people lack the education, job skills, and social skills needed to become a normal functioning individual within our society. Prisons do nothing to help these inmates be prepared for their release back into the free world. We would like to propose a mandatory 3-in-1-program for educating, job training, and psychological counseling, specifically for young adults while they are in prison. This program has already been put into action by the Department of Corrections of Missouri, and shown great efficiency. If such programs were available for every inmate, without a waiting list; it could greatly increase their success rate, responsibility, and confidence to be released back into society while it could reduce recidivism rates. This link will show you how the "Rehabilitation through job skills" program is changing the lives of hundreds of inmates in Missouri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW9thc_HmSQ&feature=youtu.be 

The following video from Education Portal highlights the benefits of educating individuals in prisons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umtY6CdLNgk

The programs being proposed could be designed to help prevent individuals, especially young adults from returning to bad habits and breaking the cycle of a criminal life. Education is one of the most powerful weapons against the war on crimes and preventing these individuals from returning behind bars is something this program could aim to demonstrate to them. Most of these individuals commit crimes because of their families and peers' influence and/or lack of employment. This program could design quality job training in fields we need in our communities. Finally, with psychological counseling we could also help find the root of the problem in these individual to have their voices heard to a professional willing to lead them into the right path.

"Florida’s recidivism rate is about 33%, which means that one out of every three inmates released from a Florida prison return to prison in Florida within three years. This 33% recidivism rate within three years of release increases to 65% after five years. It costs an average of $53.34 per day or $19,469 per year to house an inmate in a Florida prison, and $3 billion a year into the state's overall corrections system." Educating and providing inmates with tools that can help them stay out of prison, will greatly cut down on this expenditure along with cutting down the possibility of them returning to prison.

George W. Bush once said, "America is the land of second chance—and when the gates of the prisons open, the path ahead should lead to a better life." Prisons as they are today are waste lands filled with wasted time, isolation, and idleness. They are also filled with chronic antisocial behaviors. Given the fact that inmates have a lot of time on their hands and, in most cases, they spend their days doing nothing, implementing programs that will benefit both the inmates and society alike is a plausible solution to the recidivism in Florida. To minimize the reality that a significant amount of inmates released will return to prison within three years of their release, we need to institute readily available and accessible programs such as psychological counseling, schooling, training, and rehabilitation services to significantly help individuals especially young adults that have the potential to be rehabilitated. These are individuals that will be released into society after paying their debt to society. The goal is to equip these individuals with guaranteed tools for success. Making these optional and limited programs readily available and accessible in every prison in the State of Florida will increase success rate that will lead to skillful and employable individuals. Researched has shown, that by providing young adults with education, working skills, career training, and psychological help, we can make them employable in companies and industries that will hire them upon release. 

There are hundreds of companies known as "Felon Friendly Employers" that would hire inmates who have a prison record. Having the skills that employers are looking for, will make these individuals more successful in maintaining work. In addition, the government has incentives in the form of a tax break (Work Opportunity Tax Credit) for companies that do hire ex-offenders. 

By providing these programs while in prison, there are hundreds of jobs and industries these individuals can be prepared for once they leave prison. Some of these jobs includes: carpentry, cosmetology, barber, air conditioner technician, computer drafting, computer coding, culinary, entrepreneurs, tattoo artists, artists, factory jobs, drivers, janitors, car washer, delivery, dog walker, lawn and tree maintenance, blogger, writer, truck driver, masonry, warehousing, manufacturing, electrician, machinists, restaurant workers (there are many more jobs ex-inmates can hold after leaving prison).

More than a hundred thousand young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 leave prison (federal or state) every year. Transitioning into adulthood is a very exciting moment in one’s life, by becoming independent and making a living for themselves. There is a greater divide in society for those that entered the system, and it is greatly seen not only when they enter but mainly when they leave. Most of the young adults that make it into the system already come from a troubled life, such as being a part of the foster system or coming from a life of abuse and/or neglect by parents.

Yes, having them in prison can be used to “straighten them out” but if no education or vocational training is provided, how will they be able to fit into society when they get out? Prisons need to work towards reshaping these individuals to be fit for society.

Rehabilitation programs give purpose instead of prison. Treatments for inmates are another alternative of solution. Community-based programs increase public safety and positive life outcomes for young inmates.

In focusing on young inmates, those who have been incarcerated experience-decreased income in comparison with their non-incarcerated people. Furthermore, they may suffer earning losses between 10 and 30 percent for up to ten years after their release. As a result of this, economic issues is their main concern and most inmates leave prison with no savings, and limited job possibilities. Many of them have mental disorders and can benefit from continuing counseling. The benefits of the correctional system will ensure that individuals return to society with a different mentality that helps to reduce the probability to continue crimes. 

"According to the November 2007 report, people with serious mental illnesses are booked into Florida's jails annually. On any given day, about 16,000 prison inmates, 15,000 local jail detainees, and 40,000 individuals under community correctional supervision who have serious mental illness."

Let us join in the fight to help reduce the recidivism rate in Florida and ask our lawmakers to provide readily and available education, job training and mental health counselling to inmates who will one day be a member of society. 

 

References

Boehm, J., Women’s Programs/Reentry Manager, et al. (2007). Missouri Makes Its Move toward a New Reentry Philosophy. Retrieved on December 2, 2014, from https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.nicic.gov/Library/022787.pdf

 

Uggen, C., Wakefield, S., Travis, J., & Visher, C. (2005). Weaving young ex-ofenders back into the fabric of society. Retrieved December 2, 2014, from https://www.soc.umn.edu/~uggen/Uggen_Wakefield_Chap_05.pdf



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