“Re-entry” is the term used to describe the process prisoners face regarding integration back into society after being released from prison or jail. This transition from incarceration to community is often difficult for ex-convicts for a wide range of reasons, and programs to assist them in effective reintegration are vital to their success as productive members of society. Here are some surprising facts about the plethora of problems these individuals must overcome after being released, and why it is so important to help them during these times.
1. Over 10,000 people are released from federal and state prisons each week in the US.
Often times we forget that nearly 95% of all federal and state prisoners will eventually be released back to their communities. Out of everyone convicted of a federal crime in 2013, only 0.4% of offenders were given either a life sentence without parole or were sentenced for so many years that it was virtually a life sentence. These figures are often forgotten in America, and programs and services to help individuals transition from being in a prison to being productive within their community are often scarce.
2. Sadly, within 3 years of being released nearly 2/3 of ex-prisoners may be arrested again.
Without proper services to help them get back on their feet and many roadblocks in the way, many of these individuals are forced into difficult situations in order to support themselves. Many states ban anyone with a felony drug conviction from accessing food stamps and welfare, and in some public housing units tenants are banned from allowing relatives with past convictions from entering their home. Additionally, because most employers are allowed to inquire about past arrests and convictions within the initial application, getting even an interview for a job can be very difficult.
3. Nearly 3/4 of prisoners being released have a history of substance use disorders.
A 2004 study found a diagnosable drug abuse or dependence disorder in 53% of state prisoners and in 45% of federal prisoners. However, of those meeting the DSM criteria for a dependence or abuse disorder, only between 7% to 17% of prisoners receive any treatment while incarcerated.
4. More than 50% of confined juveniles have not completed eighth grade.
More than 2/3 of juveniles in custody reported wanted to pursue higher education. However, after release about 66% of youths do not return to school. These youths need programs and policies help them get back to their education, because school attendance and school involvement have been repeatedly shown by research to be protective factors against delinquency in both the short term and long term.
5. Nearly 2/3 of parolees sent back to prison are reincarcerated due to parole violations.
Only about 50% of adults exiting parole in 2013 had actually completed their parole sentence. The other half exited parole because they were sent back to prison, absconded, etc. The overall rate of parolees sent back to prison has remained stable since 2012.
“Life Sentences in the Federal System.” Life Sentences in the Federal System. United States Sentencing Commission, Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
“Probation and Parole in the United States, 2013.” Probation and Parole in the United States, 2013. U.S. Department of Justice, Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
“Reentry Facts & Trends.” NRRC Facts & Trends. CSG Justice Center. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
“Reentry Myth Buster! On Youth Access to Education upon Reentry.” Reentry Myth Buster! Federal Interagency Reentry Council. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
“USDOJ: FBCI: Prisoners and Prisoner Re-Entry.” USDOJ: FBCI: Prisoners and Prisoner Re-Entry. Web. 19 Feb. 2016