Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Corrections officials want to reduce the percentage of inmates who re-offend after leaving prison.
Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams said the rate of re-offense has been 60 to 65 percent in the past 20 years. They started a program on the Kenai Peninsula this year to employ inmates from Wildwood Correctional Center at a seafood processing plant. They have jobs, and get room and board.
Another proposal to start this summer is housing vouchers for those that are willing to provide prison inmates housing once they leave prison. Williams said halfway houses were right for what the state needed 20 years ago but things have changed and the prison system is not as overcrowded as in the past.
"How we do transitional housing needs to change, it is based on the same results, not very good results in terms of the re-offense rate. That motivated me to make some of the changes."
Williams said he thinks the program has worked in Kenai. The inmates are kept on electronic monitoring and closely watched. They have a job, and a sense of belonging somewhere.
"It makes sense to give someone a job and a place to live rather than just release them and say good luck," he added.
One hurdle will be drug addictions. Commissioner Dean Williams said he thinks they can make improvements in that area, "People who are headed the right way can help each other. When you don't have a job or place to live there is a temptation to go back to drugs and it is harder to overcome that temptation."
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