Inmate assistance programs are a cost-effective way of reducing recidivism and helping the formerly incarcerated adjust to life outside prison, The Crime Report states.
The report notes that programs like the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison (now Mount Tamalpais College) are inmate assistance programs that help substantially reduce recidivism.
“Criminal justice reforms that use shorter imprisonment sentences and more frequent use of Inmate Assistant Programs can reduce crime, as well as the cost of administering the criminal justice system,” according to the report.
In this research paper the university professors specifically address criticisms about inmate assistance programs that are often made. One is that they aren’t cost effective.
Mount Tam College relies heavily on voluntary services from university teachers and students. But this program is considered to be an anomaly, according to the paper.
“The actual cost of running similar programs is very high,” the authors acknowledge, sometimes exceeding the state’s average cost of incarcerating one inmate.
“Because imprisonment generates small marginal deterrence effects when the sentence is very lengthy to begin with, a reduction in the sentences for repeat offenders can lead to significant per-inmate cost savings without generating large increases in recidivism incentives,” the authors write.
The study found that such programs are “crucial policy tools” for reducing mass incarceration in the world’s most populous prison system. These tools can improve the lives and health outcomes of families, the report maintains.
Such programs “can bridge the gap between the incarcerated and the general public, paving the way for the reintegration of the incarcerated population,” the authors concluded.
The Aug. 15 article is titled: “Inmate Assistance Programs: Toward a Less Punitive and More Effective Criminal Justice System.” It was compiled by Professors Murat C. Mungan and Yijia Lu at George Mason University, and Eckmen Giray, an assistant professor of economics at Grand Valley State University-Seidman School of Business.