Why the High Rate of Recidivism?
Why is the recidivism rate among felons so high? Because society punishes ex-convicts for life. Devah Pager and Jeff Manza explain:
Take the Higher Education Act of 1998, which bars ex-felons from eligibility for Pell Grants, the largest type of federal student loans. How can ex-offenders build better lives for themselves if they are not allowed to compete for the same kinds of educational opportunities as everyone else?
Many of the legal barriers that extend beyond the completion of a prison sentence were adopted by Congress or state governments as part of the "war" on crime and drugs. These include restrictions on occupational licensing that prevent work in many types of jobs; access to public housing and other types of social programs aimed at the poorest Americans, and a variety of political rights (such as the right to vote, to serve on juries and to hold public office). The unintended consequence of these policies can be to promote the very circumstances that led to crime in the first place....Crime policy in recent decades has emphasized harsh punishment over rehabilitation, and the problems of prisoner re-entry have become increasingly difficult to ignore.
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