Newsweek: “Re-entry” not “Rehab” on the Rise

On average, the U.S. locks up 2.3 million people in prisons and jail nationwide, and each year, about 656,000 are released from incarcertation, according to Newsweek.

Almost two-thirds of those released go back to prison. So what’s being done to bring down the rate of re-offenses?

That’s the topic of “The Dawn of a New Movement,” a recent Newsweek article by Ellis Cose. The story’s definitely worth a read.

Cose points out that:

“Prisoners generally lose all forms of identification while inside, which cripples their ability to function outside. When released, they are prohibited from associating with other felons, so those with relatives with records often cannot go home. They are essentially barred from certain professions, and from receiving food stamps, housing subsidies and certain school loans.”

Cose contends that while rehabilitation has become “a dirty word to most Republicans,” “re-entry” has become a new buzzword that’s behind legislation dubbed the Second Chance Act, currently working its way through the U.S. Congress.

The act aims “to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and help states and communities to better address the growing population of ex-offenders returning to communities,” according to

President George W. Bush, too, is behind the legislation. “We know from experience that if they can’t find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit a crime and return to prison,” according to a press release from the White House.

Cose ends the story with an opinion:

“… The notion (of re-entry legislation) nonetheless represents real progress—and a noteworthy advance in the thinking of political leaders who deluded themselves for so long into believing that it was cheaper to lock people up than to help them stay out of trouble.”

The debate of what to do with ex-convicts once they hit the streets again will no doubt rage on. What’s your take?

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