Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reentry Fallacy

In our region the state corrections department is being opposed in its plans to establish reentry facilities housing up to 500 prisoners, in another traditionally designed attempt to reduce the recidivist rate—running about 70% nationally—with a service-based approach; as reported in this article.

Though having access to certain reformative social development tools—employment, education, counseling, etc—certainly plays a role in an individual becoming a successful and productive member of society; it plays a minor role in criminal transformation.

Deciding to leave the criminal world and become a member of the communal society is primarily an internal individual decision based on discovering reasons to do so that are powerful enough to trump those for staying within the criminal world, and it is our contention that this generally only happens through a close relation with another reformed criminal who helps guide the penitential criminal into the communal world; or a very fortuitous set of circumstances—usually centered around education—that provide the environment within which the penitential criminal discovers, on his own, the way out of the criminal world and into the communal.

An excerpt from the article.

“Have you ever been to Madison?

“Not the city in Wisconsin, but the three blocks by four blocks in rural Yolo County that's home to 300 people and seasonal occupants of a migrant farmworker camp.

“There aren't many residents, but it seems most every one of them is spitting mad about a proposal that would double the population with convicted felons.

“Yolo County supervisors agreed this week that an alfalfa field near town would be the best place to build a re-entry prison in exchange for $30 million from the state.

“With just days to go before a final vote Tuesday, Madisonites are digging in for a fight. They're worried about the safety of their families if the state drops 500 inmates on their doorstep.

“They have been painting protest signs, firing off e-mails, calling emergency meetings and asking lawyers and neighbors for help.

"We're not sleeping. We're not eating," said Carla Phillips, 47. "We are trying to figure out how to save the lives we've been developing in this community for 20 or 30 years."

“Meanwhile, Yolo County officials are racing toward a different goal.

“By the time they vote Tuesday, supervisors want an agreement from the state to help solve Madison's flooding, water and sewer problems in exchange for the prison site.”