Prison Time as Punishment Doesn’t Work

September 24th, 2018 by Attorney Dan Carman

Prison Time as Punishment Doesn’t Work

Most of those released from Kentucky prisons will be rearrested, and many of them will end up back behind bars. Our current justice system, by just about any measure, is failing society. This massive revolving door continues to consume billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

Many studies and projects have tried to determine the reasons why our justice system doesn’t work and to come up with solutions. The latest comes with the help a billionaire family known for supporting conservative political causes, not for trying to help those convicted of crimes.

Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that there are high recidivism rates among released prisoners. One of their studies followed 404,638 inmates in thirty states after they were released from prison in 2005. Researchers found …

  • Three years after release, 67.8% of released prisoners had been rearrested.
  • Five years after release, 76.6% of released prisoners had been rearrested.
  • Of those who were rearrested, 56.7% were arrested within a year of being released.

A new project, partially funded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, is monitoring 1,100 inmates in four states (including Kentucky) after they are released from prison, with the goal of helping them successfully reintegrate into society. The $4 million project started in August.

Safe Streets and Second Chances involves evaluating former inmates for 15 months after their release. Researchers will test the effectiveness of a program focusing on individualized plans to help ex-convicts use better coping skills, job opportunities and positive social engagement.

Changing the criminal justice system is a priority of the Koch network. It wants more emphasis on rehabilitation and cutting recidivism, and less emphasis on punishment. Network leaders seek to remove mandatory minimum sentencing laws and increase the burden of proof for the prosecution before someone can be sent to prison.

Koch Industries head attorney and senior vice president, Mark Holden, is a former correctional officer. He told the Washington Post, “Rehabilitation programs are so important for people who are in the federal prison systems, to come out of prison less troubled, less traumatized, more skilled, educated and able to successfully reintegrate into society so they don’t go back to prison.”

The goal of the Safe Streets and Second Chances research is to try to establish ways to transform reentry programs across the country. Surveys of inmates getting ready for release show they’re overwhelmingly optimistic about their chances of staying out of prison, but they feel high levels of trauma. Most stated that a close friend or family member was murdered and 58% stated they have a drug use disorder.

Those with untreated trauma symptoms are at increased risk of being impulsive and see threats to themselves and others that don’t actually exist, which could result in criminal behavior and returning to jail. Adding the trauma that comes with imprisonment won’t help the situation.

The best way to avoid the problems that come after being released from prison is not to be incarcerated. If you or a family member is facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and your future. Contact us today so you can discuss your situation with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, Kentucky-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation.