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Recidivism, or the Revolving Door

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 6 months ago

Recidivism, or the Revolving Door


Upon my return to Dublin I began talking to a guy named Jerry Robisson. He grew up in the Fillmore and is currently serving a two year sentence for a parole violation. Jerry approaches me wanting to discuss the rate of recidivism, or what is more commonly referred to as the revolving door in which convicts return again and again.


Jerry first started getting into trouble at the age of 13. He attributes his first skirmishes with the law to both peer pressure and growing up in a single parent household. When asked why he felt the need to associate with the so-called “wrong elements”, Jerry explained to me that it was a remedy for the alienation he felt and an opportunity to be accepted.


It wasn’t long before his habits of “getting high, stealing cars, and armed robbery” led him to become a frequent visitor to juvenile hall. He quickly adopted the attitude that if he didn’t have life, he was going to get out and it didn’t matter. In Jerry’s eyes, juvenile hall was little more than an opportunity to see his friends.


He doesn’t see things the same way today: “I need to be a positive role model for my two kids.” He senses the importance of a supportive school environment and told me that “without education you don’t have nothing. You don’t have the skills to get the good jobs to survive in these cities where the rent is high.”


When asked about possible solutions to the alarming recidivism, Jerry is quick to offer many suggestions which seem sensible and could prove effective. One of the first things he suggested was to create more after school programs and especially at the elementary levels. He’s quick to point out that it’s too late to really be effective by junior or senior high school and I’m inclined to agree. Another suggestion offered by Jerry is the implementation of mandatory parenting classes both in high school and prisons.


A more controversial suggestion put forth by Robisson is to establish funding for prisoners to become entrepreneurs upon their release and start their own small businesses. While this is certainly an unconventional approach, it’s important to keep in mind that many convicts in America were successful businessmen in an illicit trade and only find themselves incarcerated after reaching such high levels of success. So why not give these ex-cons an opportunity to succeed in above ground business? Lots of reasons, I’m sure, but it’s something to consider.

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