Magazine article Corrections Forum

Prison Officials Overhauling Pre-Release Measures

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Prison Officials Overhauling Pre-Release Measures

Article excerpt

Arizona Republic

Across the country, a burgeoning number of people are being released from prison each year, the by-product of a 40-year trend of increased incarceration. In 2006, one in every 284 Americans was on parole. Nationwide, parole entries have crept up in every year except one since 2000.

In Arizona, the number of felons on parole, called community supervision, has more than doubled in the past 16 years. An analysis, linked to a database of parolee locations, found that nearly 5,000 ex-convicts are living in virtually every ZIP code in the Phoenix area.

Prison officials are overhauling pre-release preparation and have launched a pilot to ease the transition for at least some of those coming out of prison. The programs already are showing promise, with early recidivism rates lower than state and national averages.

"Focusing on the sentence alone does not give our state all of the protection it deserves," says Dora Schriro, state corrections director. "The sentence is a finite period of time, and then it's over. And when it's over, they come home. The question we should ask is: How do we want them? You don't just want them not committing new crimes. You want them civil and productive."

Debbie Mukamal, director of the Prisoner Re-entry Institute at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says inmates typically leave prison with physical and mental-health issues and substance-abuse problems that need to be addressed. …

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