WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT?
Currently, incarceration is the primary and most common form of punishment in the United States. In 2022, there were two million people in prisons and jails throughout the United States, with an over representation of African Americans. To put it into perspective, the population of the United States consists of only 5% of the world's population; however, 20% of the world’s prisoners are in the United States. Maryland has an incarceration rate of 531 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration, detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than almost any democracy on earth. Thirty-six thousand Maryland residents are locked up in various facilities.
Returning citizens are often confronted with one pressing reentry challenge after another, everything from finding a place to live and arranging substance abuse treatment to getting a job. They often find themselves facing the exact same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place. A setback in any one of these areas can easily lead to relapse and a return to prison, what public policy analysts call "recidivism," measured by looking at the percentage of individuals that return to incarceration in the three years after prison release. The latest statistic in Maryland reveals a 41% recidivism rate.
Ninety-Five percent of incarcerated individuals return to a community. What we do to them (trauma inflicted by overly zealous security officers and other incarcerated individuals) and don’t do for them (lack of preparation to return home, lack of access to mental health services) will come back with them to their community.
Every single one of these individuals will have a lasting impact on their community either positively or negatively. Finding strategies that create positive outcomes is critical for reducing future crimes.