A study of Nebraska’s correctional system cited rehabilitative services as a key factor in addressing overcrowding, growing prison costs and high recidivism rates.
“Corrections systems can grow commensurate with their failure rate, as offenders leaving the system re-enter,” said the study conducted by the Platte Institute in conjunction with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“Thus, the key question should not be how many people are in prison, but how much public safety and victim restitution is obtained for each dollar spent.”
To spend money effectively, several solutions were offered, many of which focused on rehabilitation.
Before imprisonment, mental health and drug courts were set forth as ways to rehabilitate through mandatory treatment rather than incarceration, the study said.
While in prison, increased mentoring was promoted – such as Prison Fellowship Ministries, a two-year, faith-based program “that seeks to strengthen vocational skills, familial obligations, relationships and values” – as well as literacy and job skills training, in-prison work options and regular visitation from family and mentors.
To assist with re-integration upon release, legal protection for employers to encourage them to hire ex-offenders, professional licensing options for returning citizens, and victim-offender mediation were suggested.
In “Through the Door,” EthicsDaily.com’s newly released documentary on faith and prisons, Rich Larsen, public information officer at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Ind., said, “Ninety-seven percent in Indiana of all offenders are going to go home. It’s our mission; it’s our responsibility to help make sure they go home a better person. That’s our goal.”
Editor’s note: “Through the Door” explores the initiatives of churches and faith-based organizations in Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia who are seeking to help rehabilitate inmates and increase their chances for successful re-entry into society.