Statistics indicate that there are an alarming number of people in prison. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 2,293,157 people held in federal and local prisons in 2007. What is more alarming is that, research has indicated that two-thirds of inmates released will be re-incarcerated in the three years following their release (McKean and Ransford, 2004: 8). This is known as recidivism and it is a problem in our society as it affects communities, families, and public safety. The transition from prison life back into society is not simple. Ex-offenders must find a residence, purchase life's necessities, and locate a job. These activities are harder for ex-prisoners than the average person because many prisoners have not been rehabilitated, developed skills, or obtained an education while in prison, and have not received adequate transitional services upon leaving prison. .
The current strategies to reduce recidivism include constructing more prisons and harsh sentencing. These methods have proven to be ineffective. This research focuses on the specific reasons why recidivism occurs at such a high rate, and how it is a problem for communities in terms of cost and violence. In addition, this research analyzes current solutions to reducing recidivism, why they have not been implemented, and proposes solutions that will reduce the recidivism rate. Society's problem with prisoners and the recidivism rate had intrigued me in my sophomore year at Pace University, when it was one of the topics of study in a class I had taken called Crime and Public Policy. I discovered that the recidivism rate was greatly affecting many communities and families and that scholars knew the solutions, but our policies did not reflect what these scholars deemed would be effective. I was interested in learning why our society wanted prison to be like a "business" and was willing to pay huge amounts of taxpayer's money on prisons rather than trying to fix the problem in a different way.