Prison Reform

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison

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WallBuilders had Jack Cowley on to discuss reducing recidivism amongst our prison population. Faith-based prisons in Alabama have reduced recidivism from somewhere around 80% down to less than 10% recidivism. The faith-based prison program is a part of Alpha USA involves local churches and members in a restitution and reconciliation process. These prisons are not set up based on simply doing your time. The prison population is somewhere around 60% non-violent offenders. If those nonviolent offenders would work better in these faith-based style systems, we would save a large amount of money in our prison system. A greater savings which is somewhat intangible would actually occur in the reduction of the children of prisoners following in their father’s footsteps going to prison. There’s a very high percentage of children of inmates who end up on welfare and also in prison. It contributes to the epidemic of fatherless children.

On BreakPoint this week, they discussed HOPE: Hawaii Opportunity Probation Enforcement. This is another new approach to enforcing nonviolent offenses by drug users that actually works. The crux of the program is that prisoners on probation are randomly drug tested. If they test positively they are immediately taken into custody for a few days. Typically when an inmate on probation tests positively they get several chances before the system catches up with any real consequence, giving the appearance of being able to break their probation with impunity. HOPE’s quick response time builds in a air of seriousness to the crime and encouraged the users to get clean and stay clean.

The program saves money to the tune of three dollars saved for every one dollars spent for regular enforcement. HOPE has also demonstrated a reduction in repeat offenses, therefore, reducing prison populations.