Over 10,000 ex-prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and arrive on the doorsteps of our nation’s communities. More than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year, and studies show that approximately two-thirds will likely be rearrested within three years of release. Think this doesn’t concern you? Well many of them could end up in your neighborhood–or a short drive away–and nearly all of them (8 of 10 in men, 9 in 10 of women) require treatment or management of chronic physical health (asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV infection) or mental health conditions. (Many prisoners with health conditions do not receive treatment while incarcerated.)
President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposes $119 million for Second Chance Act programs (strategies to reduce recidivism by coordinating reentry services for ex-offenders including health care, among many other things) – that’s up from $80 million in last year’s budget. Yes, that’s a big investment but recent research shows that offering ex-prisoners health care and mental care treatment is making a difference. Fourteen states including Michigan, Kansas, Ohio and Texas have reported reductions in recidivism since the Second Chance Act was signed by President Bush in 2008. Although now (and forever) under pressure to cut the budget, many Democrat and Republican policymakers agree that funding Second Chance Act programs actually save money in the long run–it costs a lot more to imprison people–and increase public safety immediately.
To learn more about how state governments are reducing recidivism, visit The Council of State Governments Justice Center.