How Can We Lower Recidivism Rates?

A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics says 5 out of 6 prisoners are arrested within nine years of their release. Two ex-convicts say the United States prison system should do more to prepare inmates for life outside of prison.

Brijea Daniel reports.

 

Script: 

<<Mechanic Nat Sound >>

<< Track >>

Mechanic Glen Adams Jr. works tirelessly on a vehicle at Carolina Collision Repair. Adams spent 10 years in prison for drug and gun possession. It’s been over a year since his release from West Baton Rouge Parish Prison, yet he says he is just now starting to feel fully adjusted.

<<Adams bite>>

“Took me a year to get a job because of being a convicted felon. People don’t tell you that no more.”

<<Track >>

Adams says the Louisiana prison only offered jobs that were either dangerous or physically strenuous.

<<Adams bite>>

“They got places you can go, but don’t nobody want that type of work.”

<<Ash At Work Nat Sound>>

<<Track>>

Detention Officer Carolyn Ashe has worked at the Mecklenburg County Sherriff’s Office for 17 years. Ashe admits the turnover rate for inmates is very high. She says this is due to a lack of initiative on the inmates’ part.

<< Ashe bite>>

“Unfortunately, they don’t utilize the tools that are offered. Or unfortunately on the other hand they go back to the way of life the they had before because there’s no other choice.”

<<Track>>

Ashe says additional funding could help solve the problem, but money can only do so much.

         << Ashe bite>>       

“It takes more than just the prison system, it takes the inmate at that time as well. They have to be willing to put effort in as well.”

<<Construction Nat Sound>>

<<Track>>

A judge sentenced Andrew Simmons to ten years in prison for conspiracy and use and carry of a firearm over 20 years ago. He is now the founder and owner of Lashay’s Construction & Development Co., Inc. He says the U-S prison system contributes to high recidivism, or the tendency for a convicted person to reoffend.

<<Simmons bite>>

“When I was in prison, the federal government passed a new law that they wasn’t gonna allow inmates to get Pell Grants, or any type of subsidies, for their education and I think that was the biggest trick to keeping that recidivism, that revolving door.”

<< Track>>

Simmons says therapy after release was pivotal in his journey to recovery. He says jails should require it for inmates.

<<Simmons bite>>

“I think that worked magic for me and wonders for me because it helped me go back and deal with my childhood and my fears and my anger and my pain and my hurt.”

<<Track>>

Simmons became a jailhouse lawyer in prison. He used this education to vacate his use and carry charge, shortening his sentence by two years. He says providing inmates with an education and preparing them for release is integral to reducing recidivism.

<<Simmons bite>>

“If you can invest more money into getting inmates educated and getting them jobs, you would spend less money keeping them incarcerated.”

<<Track>>

Society often continues to treat ex-convicts as criminals even after they complete their sentence. Mechanic Glen Adams Jr. says the U-S claims he is a free man, yet his freedoms are still severely limited.

<<Adams bite>>

“You can’t go to clubs, you can’t go nowhere really. Basically. You gotta go to work and home.”

<<Track>>

Andrew Simmons says that treating ex-convicts like regular people and restoring their rights is key to full rehabilitation.

<<Simmons bite>>

“It’s not about who I was then, it’s who I am now.”

<<Closing Track>>

The Federal Bureau of Prisons says it recognizes the problem and is undertaking reforms to reduce recidivism. Consulting those who have experienced the prison system first-hand can ensure the reforms are meaningful and productive for future inmates.

In Charlotte, I’m Brijea Daniel.

 

 

 

High Mortality Rates for Black Mothers

Black women are three to four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related issue than white women in America. This maternal death crisis exists despite economic class. The exact cause is unknown, but many suspect racism to be a major factor.

Brijea Daniel reports.

Script: 

<< Nat Sound Waiting Room>>

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Phones ring in the Novant Health Obstetrics and Gynecology office in Huntersville, North Carolina as women patiently wait to be seen by their physicians. Board certified OB/GYN Beverly Belle says that she has seen many patients experience racism firsthand.

<< Belle bite>>

“And I have seen other patients experiencing racism, and I think it is a lack of education on the clinicians’ part.”

<<Track>>

Guyana native Dr. Belle has been working for over 20 years and has delivered an estimated 5,000 newborns. She explained that the racial disparity could be due to health care professionals refusing to take the complaints of Black women seriously.

<< Belle bite>>

“By the time the care is offered to these women, it is sometimes too late.”

<<Nat Sound Laughter >>

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Eleanor Simmons often enjoys spending quality time with her two grandchildren. The 70-year-old African-American woman thinks back to the treatment she received after birthing her first and only child in a private hospital.

<< Simmons bite>>

“The nurse had the window open and the doctor hollered at her. And she took it out on me when he made her change everything. And she knocked my leg off of the stirrups.”

<<Track>>

Alayna Phillips, mother of two, recalled placing an engagement ring on her finger for fear that health care professionals would treat her differently if they knew she was a pregnant, unmarried Black woman. She says she knows other Black women who have done the same.

<<Phillips bite>>

“They felt that when they first had kids, unless their man had showed up right next to them, the doctors or the medical staff treated them differently because they didn’t have a ring on their finger.”

<<Closing Track>>

With increased awareness and education, we can work towards a better future for Black mothers in America.

In Charlotte, I’m Brijea Daniel.