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2001 Correctional Population
 
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Increasing Incarceration

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  More people are singing the jail house blues than ever according to the latest findings from the U.S. Department of Justice. One in 32 adults, or 3.1 percent of the nation's adult population were on probation or parole or were held in prison or jail. The adult correctional population reached a record of almost 6.6 million men and women at the end of 2001—an increase of 50% from 1990 when the correctional population was close to 4.4 million. If recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 out of every 20 persons (5.1%) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime!  
     
 
Setting the prisoners free? Prison and jail recidivism is rising as well. Nationally, nearly 70 percent of ex-prisoners are re-arrested within three years of their release from prison*. In the short term, newly emerging faith-based prison programs such as Prison Fellowship's (http://www.pfm.org/prisonfellowship/) InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) (http://www.ifiprison.org) shows promising signs of dramatically lowering those stats**. In designated prisons in Texas, Iowa and Minnesota, early findings show that fewer than 14 percent of IFI participants have returned to prison as repeat offenders. Also helping to reduce recidivism rates is a program called "Restorative Justice" (http://www.restorativejustice.org) —a systematic response to wrongdoing that stresses the importance of community involvement and initiative in responding to and reducing crime, rather than leaving the problem of crime to the government alone. -JK
* Of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% re-sentenced to prison for a new crime.
** A two-year study documenting the progress of the IFI program in Texas is slated to
be released in January of 2003. http://www.cjpc.state.tx.us
 
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U.S. Correctional Population: 1990-2001 Population Growth
Source: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics

CORRECTIONAL POPULATION
BY TYPE 1990-2001
CORRECTIONAL
TYPE
1990 2001
Jail .41 .63
Parole .53 .73
Prison .74 1.33
Probation 2.67 3.93
All Types 4.35 6.59
NUMBERS IN MILLIONS
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l Ministry Ideas l
     
 
Consider having your church align itself
with a faith-based prisoner program.
 
 
l For example, through InnerChange Freedom Initiative, many churches are providing mentors for prisoners a full year before their scheduled release and then continuing with these offenders and their families for several years following. For more information on this program, contact: www.ifiprison.org/contact.shtml
Consider this comment, "The path to restorative justice is walked by those who realize that we are all undiscovered offenders." Ask yourself this question: How can my church participate in the restorative justice process to help redeem lives—and communities? Read more: Restorative Justice Web site: www.restorativejustice.org
Read how one New York community used the Restorative Justice process to bring not only justice, but healing as well: www.pfm.org
"When in prison you visited me. . . ." Not everyone in your church will be called to visit prisons. But, perhaps they can become a pen pal. Find out more about Prison Fellowship's Pen Pal program: www.pfm.org
An interesting study comparing recidivism at two different prisons—one faith-based and the other vocation-based. The study found that while recidivism was reduced at both prisons, it was significantly lower at the faith-based prison (36 percent to 16 percent). www.txcorrections.org/article.pdf
 
     
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