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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    Changes needed to reduce correctional spending and recidivism

    The state of New York recently enacted legislation designed to assist formerly incarcerated citizens. The new law will automatically seal some criminal records. This provision applies to misdemeanors, three years after a person’s conviction or release from incarceration. The same holds true after eight years for some felonies. However, serious felonies are excluded.

    Although the criminal records are sealed, they are accessible for things such as law enforcement purposes and jobs that require enhanced background checks. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, removing barriers for formerly incarcerated citizens seems logical. Billions of dollars are spent on corrections, and in some states, increases in correctional spending outpaces increases in public education expenditures. Despite this enormous financial commitment, recidivism data suggests that incarceration does not deter future criminality.

    Most incarcerated citizens get released. However, most are rearrested within three years of their release. Given these statistics, it is hard to argue against changes aimed at improving our current system. If these reforms yield a reduction in recidivism, then implementing more rehabilitative strategies seems logical and cost-effective.

    Dr. James T. Scott

    New Haven

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