Monday, October 19, 2015

BROKEN JUSTICE - Keeping Ex-Prisoners In Society

"Can a pilot program keep prisoners from going back to jail?" PBS NewsHour 10/16/2015


SUMMARY:  In the second part of our series looking at how prison recidivism can be reduced, NewsHour follows three inmates, Jordan Taylor, Carlos Colon and Ashley Wilson as they move from prison back to everyday life, in our series “Broken Justice.” William Brangham reports.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  But, first, last night, we introduced you to three inmates serving time at a maximum security jail in Southern Maryland.  All three were part of a pilot jobs program aimed at teaching them the skills to stay out of prison after their release.

Tonight, a look at their struggles and successes as they try to do just that.

William Brangham continues our report.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Twenty-year-old Jordan Taylor is about to be a free man.  He changes out of his county-issued jumpsuit, and back into the clothes he was wearing the day he got locked up over a year ago for violating probation on an armed robbery charge

MAN:  What’s your name sir?

JORDAN TAYLOR:  Jordan Taylor.

MAN:  Good luck to you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  And with that, he’s done, and he heads out to the open arms of his parents and older brother.

JORDAN TAYLOR:  Are you all right, mom?  You know I was coming home, mom.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  For the past several months, we have been following Jordan and two other prisoners, Carlos Colon and Ashley Wilson, as they transition from a life behind bars to a life outside them.  Will they fall back into a life of crime, or will they manage to start over?

This isn’t an idle question, because, as the number of people behind bars in the U.S. has skyrocketed from 500,000 in 1980 to more than 2.2 million today, so has the cost of incarcerating them.  It now costs taxpayers roughly $80 billion a year.

Now there’s a strong bipartisan push to do something about this trend.  And one of the key efforts is to reduce recidivism.  Right now, two-thirds of convicts end up getting rearrested within three years of their release.  So the goal is to somehow stop that revolving prison door from spinning.

Unlike a lot of newly-released prisoners, Jordan Taylor has a pretty big welcome mat laid out for him.  He’s back at home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his mom and dad.  They have been married 26 years.  His longtime girlfriend, Shawna, also is thrilled to have him back.

Ex-prisoners with strong support systems do better, lower rates of drug use, higher employment, and less criminal activity.

Broken Justice Series:

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