On Decreasing Recidivism and Prison Reform

Investment in programs that allow those with a criminal past to more easily re-enter the workforce is vital to helping individuals, their families, and Delaware as a whole. In Delaware, 76% of released offenders are rearrested within three years (1). As a state, we need to work to help those with difficult pasts find stable jobs and improve their economic situation. Studies have shown that ex-convicts that are employed immediately after release have a recidivism rate as low as 3.3 to 8 percent (2). I know many people here in Delaware who have had problems with the law and are working to re-enter fully into society and the workforce but they are still being denied jobs due to their records. We need to work with employers and incentivize them to help return those who want to work back into the workforce. We need to invest in job training for these people who have difficult pasts because it would help them, their families and our society as a whole if every able bodied person was active in our workforce.

Additionally, within the prison environment, individuals should be given broader vocational training and given the opportunity to have a job doing meaningful work. Often people who are convicted have never had a job before and don't know a skill or trade when they are released (3). Receiving vocational training while in prison decreases recidivism significantly. One study showed that vocational programs can decrease recidivism by nearly 20% (4). These simple programs can greatly decrease the likelihood that people with criminal records will engage in illegal activity again. As we move to improve the lives and skill-sets of people with criminal records here in Delaware, we will be making a stronger, brighter, and safer community for all.