The Day After Prison

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At the end of our show about race, class and prisons, Princeton sociologist Bruce Western ran through a quick list of things you could do to help prisoners successfully re-enter society.

There are a whole bunch of things we can do at very low cost right at discharge. We can make sure people are enrolled in Medicaid. Do they have five points of ID, so they can get a driver’s license? Do they know about things like the Earned Income Tax Credit? Are there plans for transitional employment and housing? Things like that will help draw people back into society so they can fulfill roles like worker, father, and spouse.

Bruce Western, on Open Source, 4/17/06

It’s all well and good to talk about fixing the social problems that lead to crime and incarceration. But there are already two million people in America’s prisons, and 650,000 people leave prison and re-enter society every year. Given what we know about the negative impact of prison on the lives of these people (and their families), what do we do about them?

We’d like to talk about the nuts and bolts of re-entry, which Western calls the hot topic in corrections policy right now. What happens once they let you out? How real is the old cliche of being dropped off by bus with twenty dollars and a wave goodbye? What’s the role of the parole system, which keeps millions of people tied to the criminal justice system, and often sends them back to jail? Is is possible to mitigate some of the negative effects of prison with social programs targeted at former inmates?

Help us jump-start the conversation.

Debbie Mukamal

Director, Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Martin Horn

Commissioner, New York City Departments of Correction and Probation

Former Secretary of Corrections for Pennsylvania, 1995 – 2000

Keith Hooper

Chief of Operations, Talbot Hall,

an assessment and treatment facility in Kearny, NJ

Chairperson, Executive Board of Community Education Centers Alumni Association

Served 3 years in NJ state prison (1992-1995)

Karen Witts

Detective in charge of prisoner re-entry, Lowell (MA) Police Department

Marc Olmsted

Marc Olmsted is a blogger who served 286 days in a minium security facility in Chino, CA.

Dan Collison

Some of the sound we used in this show was from his documentary Hunstville Blues. It was produced with Long Haul Productions

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