Good neighbors – isn’t that what we want?

I believe that people who have minimal experience with the criminal justice system – and with those incarcerated – are terrified of having a halfway house or job program for former offenders in their neighborhood. But, in the end, most people are released from prisons and without rehabilitation, recidivism is at least 70% in America.  Wouldn’t we be safer and former offenders better off if there were a strong effort within the prisons and jails to offer effective rehabilitation?  The needs for job training, education (beyond 3rd grade reading level, which I understand is the average for incarcerated individuals), anger management, counseling and restorative justice are overwhelming. Without a multifaceted approach to those in prisons and jails, it is not surprising that many released from these facilities do not succeed on the outside. When one is released with resources, their lives, and the lives of their families, can move forward and neighborhoods are safer.  Take a look at these successful programs.  I believe we can do better here in America, too.

2 thoughts on “Good neighbors – isn’t that what we want?

  1. Hello Lindsay,

    I’m a big fan of BBC news, Scandinavian social programs, solving America’s self-inflicted social problems, and evidence-based solutions. So thank you for sending me this article! The questions in the back of my mind, as I read thru the article, included, “What are the roadblocks to implementing the Norwegian approach in the U.S.? Are there insurmountable cultural differences? Can the ‘tough-on-crime-tough-on-criminals’ mentality of Americans be changed?”

    I also see parallels between our country’s horrendous healthcare system and our country’s prison system, specifically, the long term, adverse effects of using for-profit corporations to address our social needs.

    OK… lots for me to think about. Thank you again for sending me the article.




    1. I agree, Perry. We do incarcerate a lot of our health problems, particularly substance abusers and those with mental illness. Our education system is lacking as well (hence, the “school-to-prison pipeline” journey). The mentality in America has slowly changed since I first began working on criminal justice reform in the early 1990s. But, it’s a slow process. Many families have members who have been incarcerated, so most likely that is one of the reasons why we have seen some incremental positive changes in our culture. I think this Norwegian approach won’t be fully adopted any time soon in America, yet there are some criminal justice administrators who have gone to Norway to consider changes. In North Dakota, there has been implementation of some of the policies and practices of the Norway prisons, not without controversy. Other states and municipalities have made some beneficial changes as well based on some of these more humane concepts. Here in New Mexico, as of this past legislative session, we have at least reduced (if not fully eliminated) solitary confinement for pregnant women, juveniles and those with severe mental illness, another step in the right direction. Thanks for reading and thinking about these ideas.


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