Friday, June 1, 2007

punishment, justice, and hope

the Salem Statesman Journal reports:

Oregon has begun a new effort to increase the odds of success for inmates when they leave prison -- and decrease the likelihood they will return for longer and more expensive stays. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has created a 19-member council to oversee the efforts of government and nonprofit agencies. He said it will be good not only for inmates -- 4,000 of whom are released annually from state prisons -- but for the public and the tax-supported general fund.

"Criminal justice has to be about more than punishment; it's also about hope," Kulongoski said Friday. "People who have served their time need an opportunity to turn their lives around -- a job, a place to live, a chance for a new start. "

Max Williams, the state corrections director, said the council's aim is to draw together all the government and nonprofit agencies working on employment, housing, medical and mental health services, alcohol and drug treatment, and personal skills to help those inmates succeed out of prison.
the council seems like a positive step, but perhaps even more important is the need to educate the public about the realities of reentry. the article offers useful information and statistics, including the facts that oregon's prison system now holds a record 13,500 inmates, and the proposed budget of the department of corrections for the next two years is $1.35 billion, triple its level of more than a decade ago. currently there are about 34,000 inmates under post-prison supervision.

unfortunately, the editor who wrote the title of the article misunderstood the concept of reentry, apparently confusing reentry with recidivism. the title: "New panel aims to make inmate re-entry less likely" is definitely contrary to the goal of the council...

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