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Crime Rates, Prison Costs Spur Programs for Ex-cons;

Efforts are aimed at curbing re-offenders

Charisse Jones


December 14, 2007 Friday

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As hundreds of thousands of inmates head home from prison each year, city, state and federal officials are launching an unparalleled number of programs to help keep ex-offenders from committing new crimes.  

Spurred by concerns about crime rates ticking upward in some cities and incarceration costs that have spiraled out of control, communities are taking steps as basic as making sure parolees have valid state identification cards and as innovative as offering tax credits to businesses that hire ex-offenders to help them get back on their feet.  

Heightening the need for such efforts is action this week by the U.S. Sentencing Commission that gives nearly 20,000 people in federal prisons for crack cocaine offenses a chance to apply for early release under new sentencing guidelines. An estimated 3,800 such inmates could be released in the first year.  "

We are seeing really an unprecedented number of governors, state legislatures, mayors and county executives launching comprehensive prisoner re-entry initiatives," says Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national non-partisan policy resource center. "Returns to prisons are as high as they've ever been. ... And that has a huge public safety impact and cost."  

The Bureau of Justice Statistics says state and federal prisons released 698,459 inmates in 2005, the most recent annual figure available. The number has been rising.  

States and cities taking action:  

*New Jersey next month will launch "Another Chance" to provide job training, health assistance and other services to 1,300 men and women who are newly incarcerated, within nine months of release or on parole and returning to Camden, Newark or Trenton.  

*California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in May that will create at least 32 prisoner re-entry facilities, allowing inmates to spend the last 12 months of their sentences receiving anger management training, help finding jobs and other services.

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.

Quran: 3:103
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