Jail and prison is a social investment. As the famous Fyodor Dostoevsky quote says, “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners”. Appropriate treatment of inmates is not only ethical, but it is fiscally responsible. It is straightforward: Inmates who receive good plans for reentering society are less likely to return to criminality (and less likely to return to prison). Adjusting to society is hard, and some inmates have been institutionalized through long sentences. For example, for one research project I conducted, I was in a dormitory of 400 inmates, where half the inmates’ sentences were all over 20 years (with many in the 30-40-year range) and the other half of the inmates had life sentences. These older inmates are actually less likely to reoffend compared to their younger counterparts; however, when their release date is coming, they must be prepared to reenter a world that will look vastly different from when they were first incarcerated. Younger inmates need other forms of reentry planning.
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