There are many stories on this website that are tragic but true. I want to submit a good story for a change. This is a conversation I recently had with my CO-III about the future of incarceration.

He told me that he got into corrections “to make a positive difference in the lives of inmates.” The most startling statistic he shared with me was that all recidivism rates. both nationally and state, are based on 3 years after release, and that it is 40%. If you go out 7 years from release 90% come back to prison!

This gentleman told me about the “2nd chance” program here at Piestwa unit that boasts a 10% recidivism rate after 2.5 years. This outstanding program only has 50 slots available, which means a very small percentage of Perryville’s 4,000 women will be able to take advantage of this fine program.

I asked him about the Scandinavian model of corrections that has almost zero recidivism due to the many programs available, and because their staff all have college degrees in psychology or sociology. My CO-III argued that countries like Sweden and Norway have a much smaller population and their citizens bear a much heavier tax burden than Americans are willing to pay.

As I left his office I said, “You’ve given me hope.” What if all staff was as dedicated as this counselor to restorative justice rather than punitive justice? Perhaps we could stop warehousing people and instead, restore them to productive lives.

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