Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%. The U.S. has one of the highest: 76.6% of prisoners are rearrested within five years. — Harvard Poltical Review
It seems to me there are three purposes to prisons: They are clearly essential for public safety, to keep criminals away from the rest of us. Prisons serve the need to punish those who break laws; there has to be consequence to criminality, especially violence. In our current system, every judge’s sentence includes time behind bars for the sake of public safety and time for punishment in the form of deprivation of freedom. But the third piece — rehabilitation — is less emphasized, and that’s a huge and costly mistake for society. Read my Sun column today and you’ll see what I mean. When you consider the number of repeat violent offenders on the streets of Baltimore and other cities, consider the role prisons play in the criminal justice system. Within the system, a typical violent criminal spends most of his time not in police custody, not in the local detention center, not in court, but in prison. To have someone in the state’s custody for years, even decades — to have, literally, a captive audience — and not do everything possible to change that person’s life outlook is a waste of time and public money. The American prisons need to be demolished, rebuilt and reimagined with heavy emphasis on inmate therapy to achieve much better outcomes.