Thirty-two thousand prison inmates will complete their sentence this year. But before another year is over, 12 to 14 thousand of them will be back behind bars. Most who come back have no education or job skills, but they do have a drug problem. “And we can send them out of the gate when the end of that sentence comes and just hope for the best.”, says Michael Crews, Corrections Secretary.
This brand new 432 bed prison was built to offer a different alternative. ”When they come to this facility their day is going to be spent on programming whether that’s adult basic education skills, GED, substance abuse.”, says Crews.
There is a chapel, a computer room, a library and plenty of classroom space. In addition to furthering their education and being treated for drug abuse, those inmates who want to learn how to work in a restaurant can receive a certification so they’re ready to find a job when they get out.
But before the plan becomes reality, lawmakers need to sign off on 5.4 million to open the prison. Something they haven’t done yet.
Legislation called Smart Justice is also on the table. It will require every inmate to be provided the right IDs to qualify for work. ”Without an ID card they can’t get a job. without a job they can’t get a place to live. Those are the first two issues they all have to come to face with.”, says Barney Bishop, Smart Justice.
Even if the re-entry model lives up to its promise, it would take 75 of these model prisons to provide treatment for every inmate that leaves the system.