Justice department statistics show that there are over 2.2 million people in state or federal prisons or local jails in the United States. This number is one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. In December of 2007, U.S. News & World Report reported that almost 699,000inmates were released in 2005. Similar numbers are expected for years to come. U.S. News quoted that “getting convicts to stay ex-cons has long been one of the most vexing challenges of the criminal justice system. One out of every 31 American adults is in jail, on parole, or on probation, and the central reality is this: Nearly everyone who enters the prison system eventually gets out.” When they get out, the problem for most inmates is that they have very little, if any, family and community support.
FAMM has reported that most inmates in the USA are non-violent offenders. FAMM has been educating the public and lobbying for “sentencing reform” for over a decade.
The costs of incarceration stretch far beyond prison walls, meals, and guards:
- The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world.
- It costs over $26,000 to incarcerate one federal prisoner for one year -- more than the average cost of one year of college education.
- American taxpayers spend over $60 billion each year on prisons.
- Half of all federal prisoners and one in five state prisoners are there for a drug offense -- and it's usually a nonviolent one.
- Men who have served time in prison earn 40% less each year than men who have not been in prison.
- One in every 28 children under age 18 has a parent in prison.
- Long mandatory sentences have led to overcrowded, unsafe prisons
that are less cost-effective than alternatives like treatment and drug courts.
On December 5, 2008, Senator Jim Webb (Virginia) presented an excellent speech about the Hamilton Project Policy Discussion, "From Prison to Work: Overcoming Barriers to Reentry". This article discusses the real challenges that an inmate encounters after his or her release from prison.
Michael Sweig is emerging as a strong justice system reform advocate. His website is here. His forthcoming book is "In Felony's Mirror: Reflections on Pain and Promise." An excerpt can be read here. This excerpt from Michael Sweig's book is the basis for a case study for law, business and criminal justice education.
Other sentencing reform advocates and/or sentencing policy experts are Margaret Love, who was a former Pardon Attorney for the Department of Justice, Professor Douglas Berman, who is the William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law at Ohio State University’s Moritz School of Law, and Pat Nolan, who is President at Justice Fellowship (an active part of Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship). Marc Mauer of the Sentencing project is also involved with sentencing policy and the criminal justice system.
The purpose of this website is to illustrate “Re-Entry Success Stories” because the media concentrates most often on the negative stories of repeat offenders or career criminals. There are hundreds of thousands of productive “former prison inmates” in our communities. Each year, thousands of inmates are released who do an excellent job in raising their families and are productive in their jobs and communities. It is impossible to summarize every case on this website. Therefore, the purpose is to illustrate several examples of success stories. Please send to us a “success story” about someone you know who was a former inmate in state or federal prison by using the procedure outlined on the website’s “Contact Us” page. It should be noted that high profile success stories are easy to obtain by using the internet. However, we rely on the readers of this website to lead us to success stories that are not in the news.