The Recidivism Solution
A Big Word – Big Problem – Demands a Big Solution
Our tough on crime rhetoric of the past does not translate into safer communities when an average of 1+ out of every 2 ex-offenders will end up offending again. Eighty percent (80%) of all new crime is committed by ex-offenders (4 out of 5). Society can no longer neglect THIS population.
They are coming out. Over 95% of the prison population will be released back into our communities. While they are locked up, why don’t we do something positive with them to change their behavior so they won’t break into our houses again?
Tough on crime should be re-defined as TOUGH ON RECIDIVISM. Reducing recidivism makes society safer.
- The small percentage of criminals who keep repeating over 80% of crimes need to be swiftly put away. But they will not stay away forever. The hard truth is that most of them will eventually come back out into society.
- Those inmates who work at changing their thinking and behavior, improving their skills development, participating in pre-release activities to prepare them for release deserve a second chance. Society suffers when a second chance is not provided and they go back to crime.
- They need hope plus help from the community to become successful citizens. Multiple problems bombard the total life of those re-entering society (The Recidivism Challenge). Delivering effective hope plus help that actually works has to bring solutions on every level where their problems exist. Otherwise they are defeated and relapse back into crime and incarceration.
The end result of being tough on crime should be safer communities because former criminals cease to break the law.
Breaking the Chains of Recidivism
After Albert Einstein put a complex equation on a blackboard, a reporter asked, “Can’t you make that simpler?” Einstein replied, “Theories should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” In other words, if it is too simple, it won’t work.Safer Communities Ministry believes that “simple as possible, but not simpler” solutions need to be provided on four levels.
- Countywide – Get every one working together in a community to make their resources visible, available, and actually delivered to the person re-entering society and to those working them him or her, and their families.
- Individual partner sites – Build the capacity of organizations and programs that seek to help transitioning inmates, ex-offenders, and their families to be more effective.
- Individual cases – Enable those working with ex-offenders to be able to quickly assess the picture of what is going on in multiple life areas, set practical goals –both short and long term, get the right people and resources around them, and then support and keep track of progress towards the goals.
- Individual character issues: faith-based options – Provide ways to recognize and change the thinking and behaviors that sabotage success and to replace them with what it takes to do well.
The SCREEN Model: A Big Solution
The Second Chance RE–Entry Network (SCREEN) started in Union County in April of 2006 as a round table of churches, faith-based organizations, community and government service providers, businesses, and civic groups to break and decrease the recidivism cycle by working together for answers to re-entry problems. SCM and its partners have developed effective solutions on all four of these levels in Union County.
The SCREEN Model: Working with the National and NC State Re-entry Efforts
Across the country there has been renewed interest and real efforts to deal with the massively growing recidivism problem. Since the 1990’s the federal government has been increasing its grants for programs to reduce recidivism. During the Bush years, this markedly increased and faith-based grants were initiated. There has been a real emphasis on getting the communities involved and collaboratively working together because the government sees its limitations to solve these big problems by itself. SCM has received three NC Governor’s Crime Commission grants that came, ultimately, from federal sources over a 15 year period.
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