Prison programs that help inmates, such as substance abuse, and mental health are on the chopping block again according to a report by the Associated Press 4-16-2010.
The actions, forced by shrinking state revenues, and budget cuts will make an already dismal rehabilitation process even more ineffective.
Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and California, have, or are slashing funding for prisoner programs.
Of course, there are those who don’t care about criminals, and would just as soon throw the key away and punish, punish, punish. However, you can’t expect to treat people like rabid curs because many inmates will come out bitter, angry, vengeful, and in all probability looking for payback, even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing. Many prisoners don’t even know what led them down the path their lives have taken as it is.
The last thing states need to do is cut substance abuse, and mental health funding for prisoners. G.E.D. education should be mandatory at the very least, including drug, and mental health counseling if warranted. These programs do work, however, as evinced by Michigan’s MPRI program. Prisoners attend various programs geared toward preparing them for re-entry into society.
The MPRI model
Cutting any type of programs designed to help reduce recidivism is surely apt to act counter to keeping people from returning to prison.
Fact is, most prisoners will be released back into society one day. Cutting programs that do have an impact on some inmates, the author being one of them, is both shortsighted, and knee-jerk reactionism, no check that, stupidity.
The first thing to go was education when state’s were reigning in the operating costs of prisons back in the 90s. Then food was cut for the prisoners in some states, like Michigan in the 2000s. Now treatment programs in 2010 are being cut.
Locking criminals up, and leaving them without anything to do except lift weights, clique-up, smuggle drugs into prisons using errant guards, and letting inmates vegetate is asking for trouble in both the short, and long run. Axing rehabilitation programs is like leaving a chronic pedophile to run a daycare center.
Over 80% of people incarcerated have a substance abuse problem upon admission to prison. Many have co-morbid mental health issues as well.
According to Join Together, “More than half of those in the criminal justice system who complete treatment programs and participate in aftercare do not commit new crimes. Most prisoners who serve mandatory sentences, but get no treatment, commit new crimes and start using drugs or alcohol soon after release.”
Many substance abuse professionals, and former addicts would even be willing to volunteer their services to help these incarcerated individuals with their problems. But that would be too much like right, and against the vested interests of keeping people employed.
A case out of Texas is a prime example of a person not getting treatment that may have made a difference. The person’s name is John Barton.
“He was released on parole in January 2009 after serving a 10-month sentence, court records show. He was not ordered to undergo pretrial alcohol counseling and no prison official sent him to treatment as a condition of parole. He now faces two counts of murder after the April 4 crash, and remains jailed on $1 million bond,” stated The Associated Press.
“We had him locked up twice, and he never got a day of treatment,” said Whitmire, the Texas state senator. “It ought to be against the law for the state of Texas to lock somebody up for drinking and driving and not have them in a treatment program.” The Associated Press quoting Senator Whitmire.
The move by states to shutter these programs will bring nothing but increased trouble for both the prisoner, and society as a whole. “When we release individuals with untreated addictions back into communities, they usually return to their friends, their habits, and their crimes,” stated Join Together.
With Detroit having the distinction of being one of the most dangerous places on earth, right up their with Baghdad, Iraq; Caracas, Venezuela; New Orleans, Louisianna; Juarez, Mexico; Karachi, Pakistan; Cape Town, South Africa; Moscow, Russia; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Beirut, Lebanon, the Michigan Department of Corrections may have to start re-opening prisons, instead of closing some, especially in light of cutting programs meant to help, at least with some of the inmates, in becoming productive members of society.
Hardliners, or those adamant about locking all criminals up, throwing away the key, returning to busting rock piles, and eating bread and water, well, you don’t have a clue.
This article is not about coddling prisoners, or letting inmates out early en-mass because of budget cuts as a way of reducing correctional costs. If anything, the non-violent offenders could easily be diverted, and sent to treatment, saving billions nationwide. The violent offenders could get more of the counseling they so desperately need while incarcerated to help insure they do not re-offend once released. And make no mistake about it, both violent ,and non-violent offenders will be released once they complete their sentence/s.
Since prisoner release is a given, what would you rather have, a person released without having had any help at all, or a person who has been exposed to substance abuse, and/or mental health counseling as well as aftercare while on parole, or probation status?
While politicians are scratching their heads as to the cause of higher re-offense, and recidivism rates, someone please remind them that sending, or returning criminals to prison where their days are marked by the antithesis of rehabilitation, it is more likely than not because saving money is more important than providing drug counseling, and mental health treatment to prisoners, and keeping society safer from re-offenders.
The prison programs that do help many inmates, like substance abuse counseling, and mental health therapy that are being cut will ultimately find recidivism rates that climb proportionally to the program cuts.
In the flow…
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If you or a loved one needs help with any type of drug abuse/addiction problem, contact these sites depending on where you live. SEMCA (Wayne County residents), CARE (Macomb County residents), PACE (Oakland County residents), Drug Free Detroit (City of Detroit residents). For those residing outside the State of Michigan, contact SAMHSA for assistance. For assistance with medical marijuana contact The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, or Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center.
States slashing funds for prison programs again by Michael Velardo, aka: Crash Test Addict is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.