Prisoner Reentry Recommendations to Hillary Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2466 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

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Requirements should include, as determined per individual case, mandatory counseling, addiction treatment, educational attainment, vocational studies, and good behavior. Petersilia points out that, based on prison records, recidivism predictions can be made that are 80% correct. Recidivism predictors should be made clear to inmates and they should be encouraged to work towards being eligible for release and parole. A nationwide set of guidelines regarding minimum achievements requirements in addition to the current nationwide set of minimum time-served requirements would return the focus to rehabilitation rather than mere punishment. In fact, the minimum time-served should be directly related to the minimum time necessary to complete the release requirements.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Prisoner Reentry Recommendations to Hillary Assignment

Part of assuring that the prison system creates parolees who do not endanger the community is assuring that it creates educated parolees. It would do well in the future for ex-criminals to speak of "graduating" from prison, as it were, and going on to lead productive lives. In 1997 the Center on Crime, Communities, and Culture reported that "inmates with at least two years of college have a 10% re-arrest rate, compared to a national re-arrest rate of approximately 60%." This is somewhat ironic, because just three years earlier in 1994 Congress passed a bill which virtually destroyed the prison undergraduate school system. This bill eliminated Pell grants paying for the education of incarcerated individuals. "Nationally, the only higher education program that's still publicly funded is for youthful offenders." (Banks) So it is that since 1994 recidivism has increased by almost half, going from around 60% to nearly 90%. Today a mixture of volunteers, religious organizations, and state-funded programs have moved in to provide some college education for inmates. However only slightly more than 10% of prisoners will re-enter society with a college degree. A new bill should be sponsored which would fight to prevent crime by educating prisoners and thus slashing their chances of offending again. Even if Pell Grants were not extended to prisoners, perhaps a new system of educational grants should be developed that would pay for accredited college education for prisoners as part of their pre-release requirements. Our founding fathers all focused on the necessity of a free people being an educated people, and claimed that democracy was dependent on the education of the people. If we are to prepare prisoners to reenter a democratic nation and partake in it as citizens rather than as public enemies, then a liberal arts education which both prepares them for work and prepares them to understand the rights and responsibilities of all citizens is absolutely necessary.

Petersilia's third point is that we need extensive post-release services. A new set of federal guidelines should require all released prisoners to be prepared with housing and income options. Halfway housing should be arranged for those who do not have families prepared to commit to providing housing. Job-placement services should be arranged before release and continued employment should be a condition of parole with job-placement provided at any point during the parole period at which the ex-inmate becomes unemployed. Continued medical treatment and counseling for prison-related problems (including AIDS and mental illness) should be provided, as well as mandatory counseling and guidance sessions. More federal and state funding needs to be available to increase the number of parole officers and services. Nationwide there is a shortage in parole officers. In California, for example, "the ratio is now 82 parolees to 1 parole officer... even parolees who are motivated to change have little opportunity to do so." (Petersilia, "Challenges..." ) According to Petersilia's research, "most inmates have a strong desire to succeed when they are first released." (Petersilia, "Challenges...") Therefore it is vital that re-entry services are provided. Additionally, as most inmates are re-arrested within three years, it seems vital that such services are available for a period of at least five years as the inmates adjust to the responsibility and freedom of life outside. Homelessness, lack of income and opportunities, and a return to addiction are among the main reasons for a return to crime -- proper post-release supervision, counseling, and provision of housing and work opportunities can prevent this. Though such supervision would be expensive, it will be far less expensive to provide ex-inmates with housing, employment, and services within the community than to provide them with housing, constant supervision, and services inside our prisons after they re-offend.

In conclusion, it appears that a national Recidivism Prevention Bill is absolutely necessary. This bill should include: 1) a commitment to stop prison rape by means of the creation of a special court system for in-prison crimes such as rape, the mandatory investigation of prison rape cases, and special custody arrangements designed to combat rape; 2) the establishment of a study resulting in national guidelines for prison reform aimed at fostering social responsibilty and accountability; 3) the establishment and funding of an accredited national university of correctional facilities which provides liberal arts, vocational, and technical degrees to inmates; 4) Creation of national guidelines for sentencing to include individual minimum release requirements including (but not limited to) successful completion of addiction or other counseling, charitable service, educational and vocational training, evidence of good behavior, and treatment for mental health problems; 5) national guidelines and funding for parole services including housing, job-placement and training, medical services, and mental health/addiction/family adjustment counseling, and a low parolee-to-officer ration allowing for adequate surveillance and regular check-ups.

Bibliography

Banks, Gabrielle. "Learning Under Lockdown." Colorlines, NCM 2004 Award Winner, Nov 28, 2004.

Center on Crime, Communities and Culture. Research Brief: Education as Crime Prevention, Sept, 1997.

Human Rights Watch. "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons." Archived at: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/

Petersilia, Joan. "CHALLENGES OF PRISONER REENTRY AND PAROLE IN CALIFORNIA" California Policy Research Center Brief Series, June 2000. Archived at: http://www.ucop.edu/cprc/parole.html

Petersilia, Joan. When Prisoners Come Home:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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