Source — The Marshall ProjectRead country-profile
USA: more women are behind bars now. One prison wants to change that.
Source - The Marshall Project
Despite their names, state “departments of correction” in the United States aren’t known for correcting much. More than seven of every 10 prisoners, according to some studies, are arrested again less than four years after they are released. v
And while recent years have seen the beginning of a national decline in the number of male prisoners, the situation has not improved much for women, who remain incarcerated at stubbornly high levels.Connecticut is trying to push back by focusing on one group that is especially likely to return to prison: young women, ages 18 to 25.
This story was produced in collaboration with The New York Times.
It began in the summer of 2015, when Scott Semple, who runs the Connecticut state prison system, spent a week visiting prisons in Germany.
Two American nonprofit organizations have been running such trips in recent years, and they have helped to inspire a handful of prison reform experiments in both red and blue states.
The goal is to promote rehabilitation by mimicking the European emphasis on personal dignity. For example, Pennsylvania is teaching corrections officers to think like therapists, while North Dakota has been giving prisoners keys so they can lock their own doors.
Semple was especially struck by a German prison for young adults, in which men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 were housed in a verdant compound that resembled a liberal arts college.
They were given intensive therapy and training in trades like welding and farming.Neuroscience studies have shown that our brains keep developing well into our third decade, meaning people in their early 20s can still exhibit the impulsiveness and poor decision-making we associate with teenagers—ask any parent or insurance company about this—but are also especially receptive to help. With this in mind, Washington State has raised to 25 the age of considering an offender a juvenile for some crimes, while Chicago and San Francisco have created specialized young adult courts.
Since his trip to Germany, Semple has put Connecticut at the forefront of efforts to bring such ideas into prisons. Last year, the state started a program for young men called TRUE, at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. Officials from South Carolina and Massachusetts have visited and started young adult programs of their own.
Read full article