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What do you think can be done to prevent people from returning to jail once they’ve been released?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 8, 2006

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Photo of Maria Thorson

“The purpose of the jail is to hold people who have broken the law. The task of rehabilitation belongs to other organizations, especially nonprofit or other charitable groups.”

Photo of Cory Hills

“I think you have to search for the root of the problem. They have to figure out if they are alcoholics or mentally ill. If they figure that out beforehand and get them some help, then I think they will save money in the long run.”

Photo of Ellie Gibbs

“Maybe enroll them in some form of mandatory support group to help them get back on their feet.”

Photo of Perry Kessler

“I think they need a system with which to monitor them after they’ve been released. There needs to be more accountability; a long-term way to follow up with them.”

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geekin_topekan 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Joe Arpiau's approach has some merit? I've never been to Joe's jail.But DOuglas County is a CAKE WALK!Fantastic food(the jailers even eat it),writing class,yoga,library,cultural awareness class,diploma,dad's group,AA,church and even pay-per-view events from time to time(the jailers pitch in to pay it). All of which are well and good but once you leave those doors,that 10,30,60 days just POOF,disappear.Like they never happened. I don't think it's the jail's responsibility to rehabilitate.Maybe make the Department of Corrections live up to it's name?Obviously incarceration doesn't mean "correction". Maybe look at what crimes are actually "jailable" and see where corners may be cut there? Panhandling?Give me a break. Selling magazines?Please. Hiring a killer to take out your dealer?Sure. Wearing socks on your hands and walking down the middle of the street?Happens everyday,part of that Lawrence charm. Driving public transportation while high?Jail. Stabbing,rape and robbery?Yes. See where Im going with this?

More wisdom to come.More coffee for now.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 7 months ago

And a weekend with our non-smoking tourists from California.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

Let them take a baby to a KU football game for free.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 7 months ago

TOB wrote;"I would think if they joined the Citizen's Journalism Academy that they would find purpose in their life which would result in having no desire to committ further crimes."

You are on the right track my friend.See I knew that this forum had some brains. Recovery,corrections and faith without works is dead.Idle hands are the devils workshop.

jonas 11 years, 7 months ago

Informed (and Maria, for that matter): Perhaps neither of you actually gets it, as the question clearly states "once they are RELEASED," so picking that particular bone doesn't fit particularly well, ne?

trinity 11 years, 7 months ago

RI was that haiku? :)

nope, jail/jailers shouldn't be responsible for what happens once miscreants leave those doors. oh and how 'bout judges not keep giving second, third, fourth chances? nothing gripes me more.

inmate, if they flew to hawaii&were released-that'd be yet more fodder for more&more Dog episodes! (as long as Leland is featured, i'd be lovin' it)

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

The question does say "once they are released," but I don't think the question is limited to actions after they are released. It would be foolish to wait until their release to try to help them stay out of prison.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

It depends on what they were in for, doesn't it? Some people are easier to rehabilitate than others. It also depends on whether they're talking about jail or prison. Prison is much worse, though I've heard of a few jails in big cities that aren't much different from prison.

Make it less fun to be there? Somehow, I don't think that would work. In the past, decades past, prison has been much harsher than it is now. There weren't many safeguards or rights or anything like that for prisoners, and not much accountability for the prison. Chain gangs, etc., most prisons not even having AC until recent decades, food stank, guards could beat them without fear of reprisal...prison used to be considered a much darker place than it is now, and that didn't even keep inmates from committing crimes and having to go back.

Perhaps, instead of just handing them their $200 (or whatever amount it is now) and pushing them out, the state should make sure they have programs in place to help increase the likelihood that they'll be successful.

I really believe that people who commit violent crimes have psychological problems, which makes it more likely that they'll return to prison. I don't know if they should even be released to begin with.

As for some other crimes, a lot of them are related to drug use, alcohol use, or poverty. Maybe if the state acknowledged and tried to help with those problems first, they'd be less likely to commit future crimes and end up back in prison.

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 7 months ago

Keep violent offenders in there a long, long, long, time. So we can afford to do that, release non-violent offenders and put them on house arrest at their own expense with the exception of white collar criminals who egregiously abuse the public trust. Those SOBs deserve to rot. Never release child molesters because they can't be rehabilitated not to mention that their crimes against chidlren are becoming more and more extreme. How about taking some proactive steps to keep them from getting there in the first place? Early intervention would be good, except in Kansas the grossly incompetant agencies SRS and KVC would likely be involved.

What's that chant I'm hearing? Go to Oprah, go to Oprah, go to Oprah . . . .

christie 11 years, 7 months ago

Make the Parole Board spend time in prison with those they parole who then re-offend. I suspect we'll see a lot more people staying in prison where they belong.

sarahkatheryn 11 years, 7 months ago

"That would be harsher punishments for parole violators, stan!"

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Greater use of the death penalty? If prisoners are released in a pine box, they ain't coming back.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

I know! How about Australia: The Sequel? I'm sure we could find some real estate somewhere to release criminals. I mean, England did it, and the world got the Sydney Opera House (and some pretty good swimmers). Imagine the contribution our ex-cons could make to the world!

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 11 years, 7 months ago

R_I (or is it really H_I?) That's my favorite bit next to, "Ed's womb was a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase..."

jafs 11 years, 7 months ago

The high rate of return offenders indicates to me that the punishment model is not doing much to reduce crime. We can of course continue to just put people in jail as punishment, but I think we pay a high price as a society. Not only does it cost a lot of money to build jails and house more inmates, but we are losing out on the possibility of helping criminals change their lives and become more productive citizens. And, of course, we have higher crime rates. My thoughts are: All non-violent crimes should result in consequences that do not involve prison time, but compensation to the victim(s). If somebody steals my wallet, I'd like it back, and I don't particularly care if he/she goes to jail or not. Violent crimes should result in jail time when the offender is a danger to society. Both types of offenders should be rehabilitated whenever possible, and violent criminals that are unrehabilitatable should be kept in jail for life. Resources to provide rehabilitation programs can be found by not putting non-violent offenders in jail, and also by legalizing all victimless crimes, such as drugs and prostitution. In fact, the government could regulate and tax these, and provide a new source of revenue to fund a variety of useful social programs. In addition, we could make it easier for previous offenders to re-enter society as productive citizens.

Kontum1972 11 years, 7 months ago

one year in iraq....let them work it out....if u sent all the criminals over there it would be over really quick....

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

Make everyone entering prison get a tattoo on their back just above the fault line. Something very feminine like a butterfly or a fairy.

Bone777 11 years, 7 months ago

Castration for sex offenders and lobotomies for the other serious offenders.

Criminals will continue to commit crimes after release. They is what they is.

Criminals who like prison, will do what they have to to get back in (i.e. more crimes).

Criminals who didn't like prison will do what they have to to stay out. (i.e. kill witnesses)

Bone777 11 years, 7 months ago

Rehabilitation works almost never. Longer sentences and mercy killings.

If two bees out of a hive don't sting, I still say drown the hole hive to be safe.

jonas 11 years, 7 months ago

O-Bob: How 'bout Utah? Or Montana. My friend and I had an idea that you just fence off Montana with high steel walls, razor wire, motion sensors etc. , put the violent cons in there, throw a whole ton of guns over the side and let them have at each other.

Bonus, you could make it a tourist attraction for the truly restless, or rediculously risky people, by making the "Montana Survival Challenge!" (TM) You put flags up some determinate distance from the borders, and the volunteer contestant has to retrieve it, through armed-violent-offender-infested forest and mountainland. The flags are color coded by distance from the border, and worth more the farther in you have to go to retrieve them. You get one mini-machine gun, and from there you're on your own. Signed release forms and all that.

joshs_mom 11 years, 7 months ago

Send that bounty-hunter guy on the motorcycle after them. I haven't seen that movie in a long time. It was a favorite movie of some of my friends in the early 90's

Seriously, I think part of keeping offenders from returning to jail is give them a reason not to want to come back. Lousy food, no TV, no air conditioning.

I heard that Sherrif Arpaiu (sp?) makes the inmates wear pink boxers, so if they complain about the heat he says "you can always take off your pants."

Boy, that doesn't sound very good does it? Must be Sherrif Joe's attempt at prison humor. But I heard they have a lower than average recidivism rate in his county.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

blue, I'm from Missouri and I still think that's funny! And, sadly, true.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

TOB: I think they did the Oklahoma thing several decades ago, the results, a long string of winning football teams:) I've always thought the reason KU had so many sports troubles was that we did not recruit bad enough thugs, just petty criminals. Kind of scares me now that KU is winning more, I live waaaaay too close to Jayhawker Towers :-\

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

Who's that guy in the desert that has that prison that's basically a tent city? He has a jail I can get on board with. Jail isn't supposed to be a fun, enlightening or restful experience. They should have hard, manual labor every day. They should eat the nastiest food we can feed them within the confines of the law. Sexual predators (especially those who's crimes deal with children) should always be placed in the general population. The crimes they're guilty of should be announced as they're being rolled in so the rest of the inmates can hear what they did. We should bring back horsewhipping as punishment and hanging as a sentence. Right now, criminals aren't afraid of jail. They can get anything they need there, including drugs, and half of their buddies are already inside. It's like a freaking reunion. They should have no rights inside of prison, no books no tv, no gym, no visits from family. This whole cruel and unusual punishment thing is a crock of crap!!

Teapot9 11 years, 7 months ago


H_Lecter 11 years, 7 months ago

Teapot, Don't you think killing them is a bit excessive when a good maiming would do? Granted, it should be done correctly to be efficient and effective. Why should the mideastern countries have this market cornered, We're America and we should be more creative than anyone. Life can be fun...

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow. I was joking about the pine boxes, but it appears that many of you would make good Muslim extremists. They are all for public beheadings for things like adultry, being gay, or not practicing their religion. Change Muslim to Christian, and y'all would feel right at home.

acg, that would be Joe Arpaio. He is the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. Yes, he has a tent city, feeds inmates baloney sandwhiches and makes them wear pink underwear and serve on chain gangs cleaning the streets of Phoenix. Since it is a tent, there is no air conditioning -- even when the temperatures are in the 110s as they often are here in the summer. While the tent city is meant for those serving non-violent short terms or are awaiting trial (meaning they are still innocent until proven guilty but can't afford bail), it is not unusual to read of problems on the site. There have been several riots at this "prison," and a number of escapes. Arpaio has also cost the county millions from several lawsuits where people have been beaten, a couple times to death, by overly aggresive guards. He constantly grandstands and is a true embarrasement to thinking people.

As far as the view that criminals should be beaten, tortured, given no rights, etc... don't forget how many people are in prison for simple drug offenses. Or because they have actual mental illnesses and no means to get the treatment they really need because our society doesn't put much attention in this direction. I'm not for treating criminals with kid gloves -- far from it -- but your idea of punishment is more in line with the Taliban than with enlightened human beings. How are people meant to better themselves if not allowed to read or to stay in contact with loved ones? How do people improve if we treat them worse than we treat animals? It is the old idea that if you tell a kid he is stupid, he will act stupid. How does this help society?

As far as jail being some sort of vacation, it is time for a reality check. Go visit a prison and see how much "fun" it really is. Even with tv, reading, and exercise, most inmates will tell you that the worse thing is the mind-numbing boredom or the prison routine. And to encourage the raping of prisoners is repugnant. (I never will understand those who hate the very thought of rape to be a terrible thing will laugh at "Bubba" rape jokes. Pathetic, and not what reasoning people can support.)

Might I suggest everyone watch "The Shawshank Redemtion" this weekend. It might do you some good. (and with that, I have stepped off the soap-box and promise to return with humorous asides shortly.)

midwestmom 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure about recidivism, but it seems to me that when it is easier to have the county pick up the cost of your every need, ie, food, housing, medical, dental than it is too work for those same things, there isn't much motivation to work and take care of yourself and family. There are children in our community who are completely innocent of wrong doing who are doing without food, adequate, safe shelter and medical and dental care, which our county provides FREE OF CHARGE to it's inmates...our priorities are messed up. Maybe we need to teach toddlers how to file lawsuits, maybe we'll care more then...

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

With the aim of eventually reintroducing inmates into society, I'm wondering: if you put somebody in hell, don't we increase our chances of having them come back a demon?

1)I am not anti-punishment. Crimes should have consequences. 2)I am aware that plenty are demons before they go. But some are not beyond societal redemption.

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 7 months ago

And the neo-cons are calling others facists!! LOL!!! What Hypocrites!!

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

bea, shame on you, luring the young'uns in then closing the trap after they reply. I knew you were joking, it just wasn't "bea-ish" enough to be real :)

A change of heart is the only thing that helps keep anyone from returning to illegal means to accomplish their goals. Therein lies the rub . . . how does that change occur? What will or will not bring it about? Why does it occur in some and not in others?

If only we had the answer! Or even AN answer. Since the people who are educated in the system and now paid to develop programs, etc., are unable to make one whit of difference, I'm not the slighted bit inclined to do any more that most posters have done, joke about it.

All that thinking hurts my head, so let my answer be, don't release them. That is the only way to be 100% sure.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 7 months ago

Like usual, "On The Street" demonstrates that no matter how much schoolin' you have, you can still be clueless.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

R_I, Hell is online. (That could mean SO many different things...)

They even have an online store.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

More important . . . . . . (drum roll) . . . . where is ms_canada????

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

Ceal, I think we need to look to H_L to give them a change of heart. He may be well suited for the job.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

And yes, where is Glenda, our good witch of the north?

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, Bea, but I don't have to visit a jail to know how it is. Unfortunately I have several family members who spend a great deal of their time on the inside of prison walls. My cousin was arrested for a meth lab, his 2nd. Was put in the Arkansas State Correctional Facility. He started doing crack on the inside. He'd never done crack before, it was just so easy to get ahold of, he said, when we spoke after his release. His sister was in Louisiana Penal Facility for attempted murder (she stabbed a dude like 13 times). She started having an affair with a jailer who made sure her life was a complete cakewalk until her release. My best friend from high school spent many years of his life inside of Lansing. He has tales of drugs, homemade booze and sex with guards and sex between inmates (voluntary and not) that would make your toes curl. I also have a girlfriend who the douglas co. police and LPD like to arrest a lot. She has a problem with drugs. She said she didn't even mind anymore because the Douglas Co. Jail was better living than she has on the outside, and better drugs. No, I don't need to visit a website or read some cushy press release put out by some governmental agency to hear some stock answer about hard prison life is. I'll just talk to the myriad prisoners that I've known to hear the real truth. Sure it can be hard, but it's not as hard as it should be. Sure, they're isolated from the outside world. But I don't get the luxury of sitting around all day, watching t.v. or working out or reading or getting my law degree while someone smuggles in tabs of E for the whole block in their butt. So, I say kick some prisoner ass! They deserve it. Oh, and btw, all of those people I've mentioned above had no thoughts of rehabilitation when they got out. They all went right back to the lifestyles that got them there in the first place.

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

For a shirt from Hell, might I suggest the following:^UG200SR$&template=Htx/kstate_detail.htx&hdrFile=

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

AHA, now there's the bea we know and love, good one!

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

Dear RI, you really should try to let the parking thing go, it's only going to bring you down. Take a deep breath, now release it . . . think about yard art and some new way you can irritate our sue, that should cheer you up. It's time for you to learn one of the core mantra that will help usher you into a happy, stress free life -- Ceallach is right, Ceallach is right, Ceallach is right. You'll feel better in no time:)

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

acg, sorry about all the family troubles. That really does suck, but it sounds to me like the prison problem you describe speaks more of the prison guards than it does the prisoners. If the guards and those in charge of running the prison stepped up and actually attempted to keep the drugs out, then most of what you describe would vanish. Anyone who claims that prison is better living conditions than the outside world, as your friend has, is obviously dillusional -- the words of a true drug addict who is literally out of her mind. (Think of the things Rush Limbaugh says, and I believe you will understand my meaning here. Drugs make you say stupid stuff.) Your friend should have an actual chance to reform and should never have access to drugs while in prison, yet there they are. As far as I can tell, instead of calling for kicking prisoner ass, you should be seeking an ass kicking for some prison guards who aren't doing their job! It is one thing to spend time in prison to reflect on the mess you've made of your life while having access to those things that might help learn something and improve your lot in life once you get out, and another to just sit around high. I blame the friend for getting put in jail in the first place, but I blame the prison system for allowing her to have continued access to drugs. Under those circumstances, of course she isn't going to change.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

God bless you and God bless the USA!!!

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

Why do I hear Lee Greenwood? And who is that blabbermouth in the background yapping about genuflecting?

H_Lecter 11 years, 7 months ago

Sue, could it be Tom Lehrer singing the Vatican Rag?

First you get down on your knees, Fiddle with your rosaries, Bow your head with great respect, And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

mommy3 11 years, 7 months ago

My uncle just got out of prison in Ellsworh Ks. I don't know him very well but I get updates from my grandparents. Last I heard he was transfered to Wichita for some program that gives them a place to stay but makes them gets jobs. He has had a horrible time finding a job. No one wants to hire him. He finally found a welding job, but then he had to purchase a welding helmet. He's been in prison for 5 years, where does he have money? If my grandparent sent him money, then the place boarding him takes it as pay back for expenses. So yes, I think they need to offer a little bit more assistance for the men and women trying to turn their lives around. If not, then I know from watching him my whole life. he gets depressed, and next thing you know he robbs a gas station for a pack of smokes and gets thrown back in. No, don't throw money at them, but at least have some sort of employers willing to give them a chance, give them training of some sorts so they can get a better job.

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