05/10/2009 - Congress took an important step last year when it passed the Second Chance Act to help former inmates return to their communities. If properly financed and carried out, the act could cut recidivism, and ruinous prison costs for the states, by helping them develop programs to provide job placement, drug treatment, mental health care and other services that former prisoners need to build viable, crime-free lives.
Congress does not have to look far for proven programs. New prison sentencing and re-entry policies are already taking hold in several states, thanks in part to work by the Council of State Governments’ prison policy arm, the Justice Center, with the support of the Pew Charitable Trusts' Center on the States.
Their results have been especially impressive in Texas and Kansas, law-and-order states that were facing huge increases in their prison populations before they turned to the Justice Center for analyses and policy suggestions. Last month, representatives from both states testified about their experience before a House appropriations subcommittee.
Read the full editorial Shrinking the Prison Population on the New York Times' Web site.