Restorative Justice Decreasing Prisoner Population?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners complete their sentences and are released into the community. But the corrections system does a poor job of rehabilitating them: studies show that within three years, 67% of former prisoners in the U.S. will be rearrested and 52% will be re-incarcerated.

That’s why I was so taken to hear about a program in the San Francisco jails proven to reduce recidivism called “Resolve to Stop the Violence Now.”

It offers treatment for male offenders with violent histories, services to victims of violence and restitution to the community for the harm caused by violence. Interestingly, it isn’t a voluntary program for violent offenders but 98% choose to stay after their mandatory first day.

Some folks think Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who implemented the program, is too soft on crime. But that’s probably not why it received an Innovations in Government Award from the Ash Institute at Harvard and was featured the Drum Major Institute's “Marketplace of Ideas” series featuring progressive policies that are proven, practical and effective.

If you are a donor looking for leverage points, the domino effect of a restorative justice program like this one, seems to me to be worth a second or third look.

Susan Herr

Posted at 11:30 AM, Feb 09, 2009 in Peace and Justice | Permalink