The purposes of criminal punishment by incarceration are retribution, deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. According to bureau of justice 2014 last study on prisoners’ recidivism 9 years follow-up, the average rate of recidivism in the United States was 68%.
For example, in the state of Missouri, 20,000 individuals are released from prison every year. According to BJS rate, 68% or about 13,600 individuals will return to prison within 3 years of release for new offenses or parole violations. Also, according to Kansas Department of Corrections 2015 annual report, yearly recidivism cost to taxpayers in the state of Kansas is $16,494,431.87.
Among the reasons for this high rate of recidivism are lack of rehabilitation during incarceration and lack of resources at re-entry. Barriers to recidivism are untreated mental health and substance use disorders, homelessness, under education, lack of job skills, lack of family and community support, felony records, etc. As a community we can address these problems by requesting elected officials to reform criminal justice policies and to stop punishing mental and substance use disorders and to add more rehabilitative programs in our prisons. We can also save lives, money and keep our communities safe by investing in community based programs that provide holistic support to returning citizens.