The United States prison population is the largest in the world, with a staggering 2.3 million people incarcerated. You could cram the entire population of Dallas into the prison system and you would be only around halfway able to meet that number. The strain on the prison system could be alleviated with some simple changes, but criminal justice reform is a hot button issue with a lot of opponents.
Five-year recidivism rates are astonishingly high – 76.6 percent of people who have been to prison will be back in prison within five years. Offenders who have access to housing, employment and economic stability are much less likely to reoffend, but a person’s felon status can make these three things difficult to obtain. Many apartments will not rent to ex-felons. Even Section 8 housing programs often turn away ex-offenders, making it very difficult to secure a place to live. Homelessness then pushes these people back into prison.
Common sense changes to this could have a positive effect on recidivism rates. In Western Europe, recidivism rates are much lower because there are less constraints on ex-offenders, giving them an easier time getting back on their feet. Perhaps the United States should look to those countries to help reduce recidivism, lower the strain on the prison system and allow greater outcomes for ex-offenders.
The Goolsby Law Firm provides legal representation to those accused of crimes throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.