California recently announced that it is considering releasing 27,000 inmates from its state prisons to save money during its fiscal crisis. Of all the ways to save money, that is the worst I’ve ever seen. All you’re doing is moving the expenditures from the prison system to the police and probation departments, and of course to the general public. The public is put at risk to save a few dollars. How short-sighted!
There is such a thing a restorative justice in which convicted criminals are rehabilitated as part of their incarceration. This doesn’t happen in the U.S. very much, so most inmates come out of prison worse than when they went in. Rather than rehabilitate prisoners, our system is a training ground for them. The recidivism rate is this country is pitiful, something like 70%. We should remember that the pervert who abducted the 11 year old girl in 1991 who was just discovered was out on early parole.
There is a proven way to reduce the recidivism rate and rehabilitate prisoners, but it is often rejected by our short-sighted officials. Prison ministries such as Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship and Kairos introduce prisoners to Jesus Christ, and Jesus can change lives. The Prison Fellowship track record is impressive. No prisoner is forced to participate in any of these ministries, but those that do are often transformed.
Rather than sending unrehabilitated prisoners back into the streets, why aren’t our state officials more enlightened? Why not let these proven and reputable ministries operate in the prisons? Ultimately the state will save money, the public will be safer, and these former inmates will become productive members of society.