Letters to the Editor

Prison recidivism

Mr. Stanley Heddleson (Nov. 15) blamed prison recidivism on disrespectful attitudes of prison staff toward inmates. These attitudes/behaviors by staff do exist within the prison environment. They are not the cause of recidivism. While each parolee bears responsibility for his/her actions, our parole policy, lack of appropriate re-entry resources and the “war on drugs” are, in my opinion, the major contributors to recidivism.

During the 13 years I worked at the California Men’s Colony, the majority of the men on my caseload attempted to pull their lives together. When paroled, they left with a plan and the desire not to return to prison. Unfortunately, many of these men did return, often due to their alcohol and drug addiction combined with an unrealistic and inflexible parole system which offered little in the way of re-entry resources. If we are to reduce prison costs, we must invest more in parole resources. Providing parolees with shelter, food and job training in the context of a yearlong community alcohol/drug treatment program would be less expensive and more successful than jailing them for a violation or returning them to prison on a new charge.