Randall Suggs Reflects on Financial, Emotional Costs of Criminal Recidivism
Category : Legal | 1036 views | 2007-04-02 12:35:02
"When a convicted criminal is paroled or released from prison, the most common scenario is that he goes back to his old haunts and resumes his criminal lifestyle," says Randy Suggs, Co-Founder of the Second Chance Center (www.secondchancecenters.com), a facility in Albuquerque, N.M., that rehabilitates inmates in an effort to prevent recidivism. "Unfortunately, it's only a matter of time before he's back in the criminal justice system and part of a prison population that shares knowledge that reinforces criminal behavior," he says.
Suggs, a land developer from Scottsdale, Ariz., became philanthropically involved in the Second Chance prisoner rehabilitation program when he saw the success the program was having in Mexican prisons. "It's a unique and gratifying experience to make a charitable contribution and actually meet the people who are being helped," he says. "But, for me, it isn't only the prisoners who are being helped - it's also every person who will avoid being victimized by a crime perpetrated by former inmates."
According to Suggs, one of the greatest benefits of creating effective rehabilitation programs for prisoners is public safety. "The current system is based solely on punishment - on locking people away," he says. "The true reason for sending someone to prison should be public safety. Eventually, prisoners will be released, and without rehabilitation, the criminal justice system is a revolving door that does nothing to improve public safety. The government assumes responsibility for locking up prisoners, and they need to do something to ensure that those convicted won't get out and become repeat offenders."
The cost of incarceration in the U.S. keeps rising. Over 1.9 million Americans are incarcerated at a taxpayer expense of over $65 billion each year. Research indicates that, over the past 25 years, entry into correctional facilities has risen an astounding 377%, with a corresponding budget increase of 600%. And, the trend shows no signs of slowing. In California alone, the projected state spending on incarceration over the next 20 years is $1.3 trillion.
Suggs is quick to point out that the costs associated with incarceration are only one part of the equation. "We often don't consider the other costs of criminal activity," he says. "Insurance companies pay for property crimes like vehicle thefts and burglaries, and pass those costs onto policyholders. For victims of violent crime, there is the enormous cost of medical treatment. And there is the incalculable cost of the emotional distress that victims suffer."
When prisoners enter a successful program such as the Second Chance Program, however, they begin to take responsibility for their actions and learn vital tools to help them overcome obstacles when they are paroled or released. According to Suggs, "Second Chance Centers provide an opportunity to turn the tide on crime and, in turn, to create safer communities and a safer society." In the process, those who are rehabilitated have the communication tools they need to rebuild their lives, reconnect with their families, and make different choices when confronted with situations that would have previously led to criminal activity.
Suggs concludes, "It's gratifying to know that the work we're doing in the Second Chance Program will increase public safety. After all, when you're walking to your car at night or are in line at the grocery checkout counter, who would you rather have behind you - a former criminal who has been rehabilitated or a career criminal who is looking for his next victim?"
Kris Nickerson is the Editor-in-Chief of Press Direct International (http://www.pressdirectinternational.org), a global information website that provides reliable information tailored to professionals in financial, media, and corporate markets. His thorough knowledge of industries ranging from health care and travel to real estate and financial investing enables him to quickly grasp the nuances of emerging markets and technologies.