SUPPORT, MODEL, MENTOR
In 2009, one in every 31 adults in the United States was either in prison, in jail, or on supervised release. That translates to 7.3 million people. State corrections costs now top $52 billion annually and consume one in every 15 discretionary dollars. Nationally, 43 percent of prisoners released in 2004 were reincarcerated within three years. In Kentucky, 43 percent of those released in 2007 were reincarcerated within three years. It is estimated over 60% of those released from prison find themselves in prison again. Within the first year, 44% return to prison. This figure increases to 70% after three years.
COST TO INCARCERATE
The cost of incarcerating an inmate in Kentucky is close to $19,000 per inmate per year. There are approximately 21,000 men and women incarcerated in Kentucky prisons and jails. Kentucky spends about $450 million annually on corrections. Spending on corrections has quadrupled over the past two decades. Over the course of time, 95% of those who are incarcerated will be released and will return to our communities. Unfortunately, support systems that prepare ex-offenders to return and to live healthy, productive, crime-free lives are limited.
While safety has been maintained, efforts at rehabilitation and restoration have not been as effective, largely due to the over-crowded conditions in our prisons. Most experts in areas of corrections agree that the most effective approach to reducing our prison population is to reduce the high rate of recidivism. Studies show that the high rate of recidivism is directly related to personal and situational characteristics, including the individual's social environment of peers, family, community, and state-level policies. Few returning citizens are prepared for reintegration into our communities. They seldom meet minimum educational standards and have little employment history. Because few people want to house them, former inmates usually return to familiar environments conducive to crime, or end up in homeless shelters.
If we could lower the rate of recidivism, not only would fewer people become crime victims, but taxpayers would save approximately $52 per day per inmate. In addition, criminal justice expenses (public defenders and legal fees) health care expenses (Medicaid and Medicare), and social services expenses (dependent child welfare programs and food stamps) would dramatically drop.
Mission Behind Bars and Beyond directly addresses these causes of recidivism and seeks to reduce the rate of recidivism among returning citizens released from Kentucky correctional facilities. The project adopts a multi-layer, holistic approach that begins with the individual while incarcerated, assists with pre-release preparation, and provides support and assistance once the individual returns to the community. Studies have shown that connections with well-trained, volunteer-led Support Teams radically reduces the rate of ex-offender recidivism and produces productive, contributing, tax-paying responsible community members.
View the Mission Behind Bars and Beyond Story here.