Utah: Female Incarceration Rates Decreasing

Utah has seen a recent drop in female inmate numbers due to several reentry preparation programs offered at prison.  Though the prison system lacks much federal spending for such programs, the community has proven to help fill the gaps by providing services to inmates.  Everything from becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, to helping inmates create resumes or finding housing promotes the betterment of inmates and therefore their communities. 

65 to 75 percent of released prisoners return to prison at some point. But when they go through some form of programming, the figure plummets to about 30 percent. “We owe it to these women to make sure they have access to the resources necessary to reconstruct their lives.”

This is a great example of how you can get involved to help incarcerated women’s lives, as well as your community!  To read this entire article, click here


Indigo Girls Sponsor Prison Choir’s CD

Indigo Girl Emily Saliers helped produce a CD exhibiting the talent of a Georgia prison choir.  The project allows female inmates to escape the harsh reality of prison life, even if just for a little while. 

Profits from CD sales go to a program that allows inmates’ children to visit them in prison.  If you would like to help, you can purchase a CD here

Read the full article here.

and I thought moving was a hassle…

Jump to Vikki Law’s (author of the current read on the AWRN book club list) blog here to read about a whole different kind of moving.

Study: Late parole is no deterrent

Article can be found here or read below.

Karen Bouffard / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Keeping inmates in prison past their earliest parole dates does little to reduce crime, according to a study released today by a Michigan public policy group.

The findings come as Michigan plans to parole 3,000 more felons this year than in previous years to curb rising prison costs.

The study by the nonprofit Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending followed for four years 76,721 Michigan prisoners released for the first time between 1986 and 1999 to determine whether they came back to prison for a new crime or parole violation.

Researchers concluded that denying parole when prisoners first become eligible does very little to reduce crime rates.

The data showed those convicted of homicide and sex offenses rarely commit new crimes against people, and serving more time does not increase the likelihood of success upon release.

The study found:

• While 18 percent returned to prison with a new sentence within four years of their release, only 4.5 percent were returned for a new crime against a person. Returns for larceny, drugs and burglary were by far the most common.

• Re-offense rates vary widely by crime type. Criminals who commit financially motivated crimes are the most likely to return to prison; 3 percent of sex offenders returned for a new sex offense and less than 1 percent of homicide offenders returned for another homicide.

• Overall, 61 percent were released when first eligible but that also varied widely by offense. About 30 percent were kept one or two additional years, then released. Prisoners with the lowest re-offense rates were most likely to be denied parole.

Length of time served was not associated with success upon release, although older age, lack of prior prison terms and good institutional conduct were.

The Lansing-based group, which advocates policies that prevent crime and rehabilitates offenders, estimates that if everyone denied parole for up to two years had been released when first eligible, on average, it would have saved more than 2,300 beds a year.

California’s Technical Violation Policy–Lessons for Alabama?

In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s NY Times, the point was made that, 

The heart of the problem is California’s poorly designed parole system. A vast majority of states use parole to supervise serious offenders who require close monitoring. California has historically put just about everyone on parole. According to a federally backed study released last year, more people are sent to prison in California by parole officers than by the courts, and nearly half of those people go back on technical violations like missed appointments and failed drug tests.

According to the 2009 Alabama Sentencing Commission report, in FY 2008,

1,546 probationers and parolees were revoked for technical violations, i.e., violating conditions of supervision other than commission of a new offense such as failure to report, failing drug tests, curfew violations, and late reporting.  The establishment of a Technical Violation Center for the next fiscal year is recommended…During FY 08, 347 parolees and 1,199 probationers were revoked…These persons have been returned to prison and can only be released via a parole consideration hearing by the Board or at expiration of sentence.  These numbers constitute a significant percentage of the new prison admissions each month and typically remain in the prison system for more than one year, at a cost of $15,136.55 per inmate. The [Technical Violation Center] facility would incorporate programs similar to those of the transition centers, but in a secure facility.  Success in the program would lead to reinstatement of probation and parole in a 60-90 period. 

NC Women’s Prison to Close

A specialized women’s facility in North Carolina is scheduled to close due to state budget cuts.  This facility, though quite small, gave female prisoners the opportunity to work and effectively prepare themselves for re-entry.  Now, the inmates will be sent to a minimum security prison where it is unlikely they will receive work release options, nor other benefits like those at the Wilmington institution.  Superintendent Laura Overstreet made the following comment: 

“I just want lives to change,” she said. “If lives don’t change, we’re wasting money, we’re wasting time. That’s what’s so tragic. It worked. Women got out of here with jobs. They got out of here with money. They had tools to succeed, and by and large they did.”

If you would like to read more on this article, click here.

Salon.com: Progress in Alabama prisons

Alabama now lets HIV-positive inmates out on work release — but de facto segregation of the HIV-positive continues

By Rachel Maddow and Margaret Winter

The article can be found here.  Many thanks to Maddow and Winter for writing a spot-on analysis of the state’s decision.

AWRN’s response to the article can be found here.