Prisoners Train Shelter Dogs for Adoption

By Claudia Kawczynska Seven years ago, in May of 2008, Monty’s Home in Southeastern North Carolina, received state approval to start its first Pawsitive Partners Prison Program (PPPP), in conjunction with the Pender Correctional Institution, in nearby Burgaw, NC. President

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McCrory’s State Budget Aids Prisons, Education and Veterans

By Paul Woolverton North Carolina can increase its spending without increasing taxes, Gov. Pat McCrory promised when he released his proposed budget for the next two years Thursday. McCrory’s priorities include increased mental health care in the prisons, bigger salaries

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Mass Incarceration on Trial

By Scott McLemee The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. It has come down a sliver over the past six years: the all-time peak rate was in 2008, with 754 prisoners per 100,000

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Social Failures Trickle Down To Our Prisons

By Jerry Large  Image courtesy socksonanoctopus.com- Reading a series of Seattle Times articles about “the empty promises of prison labor” made me think how hard it is to get something good from a system that is, at its core, all

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Crowded Prisons, Unions, and CA Three Strikes: Why We Can’t Just Build More Cages

This video provides a unique overview of California’s prison problem.  California’s philosophy appears to be lock them up and throw away the key.  The bulk of California’s prisoners are imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses.  The Three Strikes Law is briefly

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Northampton County, PA: Three-Pronged Strategy to Combat Recidivism

By Christopher Zoukis 

Not pleased with their perpetual need to keep expanding their prison’s capacity, local leaders and officials in Northampton County, Pennsylvania have been searching for a comprehensive strategy to reduce the county’s high levels of recidivism.  In 2012, the recidivism rate for inmates being released from Northampton County Prison was 58 percent, a full 18 points over the national average.   Image courtesy prisonlawblog.com

Encouragement has come from an earlier initiative in the county, contracting with Community Education Centers to provide alcohol treatment programs and parenting classes, which demonstrated the success of initiatives of this sort, cutting the rate of recidivism in half for those inmates who completed the program.  For over a year, a working party has been looking into further measures to build on this success.

In March, the final report, authored by the county’s re-entry coordinator Laura Savenelli, was presented to prison officials, local community leaders, and mental health providers at a re-entry summit in Bethlehem, PA.  The group identified three key problems:

  • ·         Seventy percent of inmates have substance abuse issues, which need to be addressed.
  • ·         Many prisoners have mental health problems, with more than 20 percent taking psychotropic medication.
  • ·         There is a lack of classroom space for GED classes, and a need for better vocational training.

As in almost all prisons and jails, a large majority of Northampton County Prison’s inmates, almost three-quarters, have substance abuse issues.  For many non-violent offenders, drug treatment is a far more effective response than incarceration.  One proposal, therefore, is to establish a specific drug court to handle these cases, and to decide who would be better served by treatment than a term of incarceration.

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