The American incarceration system has made it a point to imprison people, bar them from outside contact, isolate them from society and bunch them together to have “tea-parties”. Meanwhile, they fail to provide them with proper rehabilitation programs and a safe environment to foster development and change.
Put simply: this system just does not work.
How effective can prison be if its only purpose is to house criminals for the duration of their sentence and after their sentence is complete, release them back into society? Not very effective at all.
The fact that up to 60% of inmates are rearrested within 3 years of release only attests to the flaw in the incarceration system. Prisons need to be places that encourage and facilitate change and development within each inmate on a personal level.
Their primary purpose should be to provide inmates with rehabilitation programs, counseling services, educational forums, and real-world mentoring.
Their secondary purpose is to be the medium for criminals to serve their sentences. What happens if the incarceration system continues to fail to invest in inmate refinement? Well, the average cost to house a single adult inmate is nearly $50,000 a year. With nearly a quarter-million inmates (217,000 to be exact) of which over 80% serve more than 5 years, 70% serve more than 10 years, and 40% more than 15. You do the math.
And don’t forget that there’s a 67% chance they’ll go right back in. This system hurts everyone, taxpayers pay from their pockets while inmates pay with their lives.
How do you try to tackle this problem? Changing the system entirely will quite literally take a national revolution. The corporate grip on the government will not loosen easily, there’s just too much money to be made.
But there is another way.
We can target the at-risk youth who would otherwise grow up to become the adult inmates that fall into the hole of cyclic incarceration. We can provide them with the services, skills, and environment they need to develop and mature into productive people will prevent them from filling up prisons and becoming a burden not only upon society, but also upon themselves.