Everyone knows that prisoners are smart. What everyone does not know is that they are not smart enough to remain free once released
With approximately 2.3 million in American jails and prisons –and almost all of them returning home at some point in time–and with the policies that shape American arrest and penal philosophy forever changing (Jeff Sessions op-ed) — re-entry norms must change.
Recidivism in Focus:
What does all this have to do with SMART PRISONERS?
The men and women we gawk over for their ingenuity while “inside” (escape from South Carolina prison using a cell phone & drone!) have nothing to offer on the “outside.”
With rehabilitation all but wiped from state and federal prisons those currently incarcerated just do their time. Even those inmates “lucky” enough to be working for any of the 100 or so companies that exploit their labor at .28 to .38 or .50 cents per hour (Paul, a prisoner in upstate New York told us he has to work three hours to pay for a bottle of water. The water in his cell is not drinkable!) they, too, just do their time only in a different setting. These same companies that they work for inside will not hire these prisoners when they are released:
Honda car parts
The point of the matter is that there are no (or few) real transferable skills (from inside to outside) that make re-entry seamless. Men and women still struggle –as we noted in our 2010 book entitled PRISONER REENTRY AND SOCIAL CAPITAL: The Long Road to Reintegration. These X-prisoners struggle on a daily basis to find a way to make the adjustment from incarceration to living freely in society.
To conclude, the point of this blog was to point out that the little things (or big0 that prisoners do inside that attracts our attention and this to proffer the label of “brilliant” have little need on the outside and, therefore, many cannot make the adjustments needed for a happy, successful post-prison release life.
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