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Rehabilitation of Prison Inmates

W. Scott Cole

Posted on April 27, 2018 07:24

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Any state’s Department of Corrections will tell you they have programs to rehabilitate prison inmates, but do they have programs that work or are they just going through the motions?

Most rehabilitation in prisons is accomplished by the inmate, sometimes with the help of the prison system, sometimes without their help.

The courts will mandate treatment for many inmates upon sentencing and the prison system will make sure the inmate goes through the program. There are many problems with treatment programs, though. The biggest being that it does not matter how good a program is, it does no good if the person does not want help or is convinced he has no problem. Treatment only helps those who want help.

The second biggest problem is the treatment program itself. The prison administrators will tell you they use only the most current, up to date treatment practices and methods, but if you get the chance to look at the program, check out the dates the material was produced. For the most part it is at least 10 years old, with much of it far older than that. It is the most current, up-to-date methods only if no progress has been made in treatment in at least a decade.

Vocational programs are good, as long as the program goes beyond teaching the bare minimum of the trade being taught. Educational programs are the same.

When all the hype is taken away, there are two things that give an inmate the best chance of success upon release: stable housing and employment. If an inmate can leave prison and be assured of both, his chances of re-offending goes down … way down.

Most states will assist an inmate in looking for housing and a job, but that assistance usually goes no further than providing lists of places that rent to felons and businesses that hire felons. Charities go the extra step and help with funding to pay damage deposits for housing and tools for work.

Every state would find their rehabilitation efforts succeeding and their recidivism rates going way down if they would follow Nevada’s example. Nevada’s prison system has a wildly popular, wildly successful rehabilitation program, in partnership with private industries, that provides everything an inmate needs to succeed upon release. While in prison, if the inmate is accepted into the program, he is given on-the-job training in a vocation. The industry providing the training is actually giving the inmate a job. True, he does not get the wages he would on the streets, but it is more than inmates not in the program earn.

The true benefit of the program comes into play when the inmate is released. Not only has the industry taught him a valuable vocation, but upon release it is waiting for him with both a job and a small, basic apartment, thus immediately giving the inmate the two things  that are proven to be the most important for him to succeed in his new, law-abiding life.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on April 27, 2018 07:24

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The Community Alliance on Prisons organized a rally at the state Capitol on Wednesday to bring criminal justice reform issues...

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