Returning to prison

Hundred of thousands of prisoners are released on parole or on probation every year, but the majority of them will return to incarceration in less than three years, and this will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to keep them fed, clothed and healthy in expensive, secure prisons. Why does this happen?

When they are released, they are not eligible for cash assistance, food stamps, healthcare or public housing, and because many of them have felony convictions, they can’t vote and are ineligible to apply for government jobs, and they are rejected for good jobs by many private employers.

As a result, they return to crime. Starting in January 2014, released inmates will become eligible for Medicaid, thanks to Obamacare. However, this still doesn’t solve their problems in finding employment that pays a livable wage to support themselves and their families or in getting on the path to becoming good citizens.

In spite of what some believe, the drug war that was started in the 1980s has been quite successful in achieving its purpose for two reasons. First, those who planned it invested heavily in building private prisons that are now returning record profits to them. Second, the majority of the record number of prisoners is minorities that can no longer vote.

Until the rules for citizenship rights and employment opportunities are changed, taxpayers can expect to support these former inmates who will be returning to prison.

David L. Faust