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|March 16, 2008|
|The Population of America's Prisons|
by George McDonald
|To the Editor: |
Re: "Prison Nation" (editorial, March 10):
Nobody can argue with the fact that "recycled prisoners" make up the bulk of those behind bars in this country. In fact, the Justice Department consistently forecasts that two-thirds of the 650,000 prisoners released every year wind up right back in the criminal justice system.
Initiatives that permanently end this cycle can reduce the spiraling prison population without divisive legislative battles over sentencing. Study after study has shown that work-based re-entry programs keep newly released prisoners from recommitting crimes, which in turn improves public safety and saves taxpayers the heavy cost of prosecution and incarceration.
The Doe Fund operates a successful, work-based program here in New York and has had astounding results: only 4.8 percent of our program graduates are re-arrested a year after their release, compared with 44 percent nationally. And what's more, our program is about half the cost of incarceration.
George T. McDonald
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