Productivity-Education/Craft/Trade -- a key to being able to stop the return to the penal system is to provide training necessary to allow the individual to find work after leaving prison. Not only is it extremely tough to get a job as a convicted felon, but the skills necessary to get a job that will afford a decent living are tough to get in prison. Earning a degree either online or through continuing education; earning a trade certificate (automotive, plumbing, wood working, etc.) will provide an occupation for the felon after leaving prison, and a focus for their energy and attention while in prison.
Consequences -- Many rehabilitation programs fail because the consequences are unrealistic. Allow people to be human, while still requiring that in order to receive the gift from society of living in society, there are consequences if the rules are broken (Clear, et.al., 2011).
How then, can Maslow's Hierarchy of needs help offenders reintegrate into society? There are at least five ways that Maslow can be incorporated into philosophies and theories when dealing with convicted offenders:
Physical Needs -- Food, water, and a bed are needs that are often taken for granted in society, but when inside prison, these needs are there and not thought of by the offender. When offenders are released, if these basic needs are unmet, they are likely not focusing on entering society in a law-abiding manner. Correctional staff can assist in this transition by community outreach programs that at least, for a period of time, will allow the offender some semblance of security.
Safety Needs -- Prisons are unsafe; ratios of offenders to staff is high, and prisoner to prisoner violence is endemic. If the time prior to release is safe (security checkes, more routein, a special wind) and/or places are provided to help integration, having basic needs met in a safe environment will go a long way to help in integration.
Social Needs -- Often, social groups in prison surround ethnicity or bias, once it is time to come back into society, correctional staff can encourage to find support through more positive needs and break the depressive society. Upon reentry, this may include self-help groups, former prisoner groups, or support groups that focus away from gang or ethnic issues and onto productive and optimistic attitudes.
Esteem Needs -- Esteem and self-respect are typical concepts that law-abiding persons expect, but are difficult for the offender. Society is suspicious of them, and it is often difficult to find trust. In a controlled environment, esteem needs are regulated; out of that environment requires trained personnel who will help with job hunting, depression and groups to ease the transition.
Self-Actualization Needs -- This final step is one of the most difficult. If we think about this honestly, many non-offenders struggle for most of their lives. No one can change the offender, or even cause the offender to feel actualized, but the offender. Correctional and social staff can provide the context of self-actualization by helping with the other four categories (Jones, 2004; Andrews, 1989).
Finally, ultimate change can only be accomplished by the individual who wants to change. However, offenders need the opportunity to become law-abiding citizens, and it is possible that with help of correctional staff and social workers, change can occur that is meaningful and mutually beneficial to both the offender and society. There are numerous alternatives to reincaceration, even with problem offenders. For drug issues, treatment programs that take 15-24 months save 50-60% above prisons and graduates of some programs are at least 75% less likely to return to prison. Churches and other social organizations can integrate their counseling abilities to offset those that do not occur in prisons. Prevention of violence programs work with gang and high-crime neighborhoods to monitor the area. For instance, in Chicago, a violence management team shows up when a crime is reported showing their disapproval through rallies, monuments, and prayer services -- thus shaming the neighborhood into change. These, and other alternatives, are at least an approach in the right direction to the revolving door policy (David, 2006). It is far more beneficial to society to provide programs and services that help offenders reestablish themselves in society than to prosecute and put them back in prison where there is little to no chance of positive behavioral chances or outcomes. Psychologically, we know deviance exists, it is now up to us to find ways to reversing the trend, saving taxpayer money, and allowing for more actualized citizenry.
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Integration Cost to Programs Incarcerate
It is important to note, though, that the United States does report all of its prisoners, and it is likely some countries do not. Still, there is an unbelievably high incarceration rate of 748/100,000 inmates in the U.S., or .75%, causing many global organizations to remark that the United States has 1% of its population in jail, and another 3% on parole, with another half a percent as juveniles, making it the wealthiest country in the world with 5% of its population tied up in the penal system (Total U.S. Correctional Population, 2010).