As I was leafing through the Star Tribune about a week ago (4/14/11) I came across an article that described how Minnesota leads the nation in incarceration recidivism. This issue is important to me so I took a second glance at it. Since we recently spoke about disparity levels I made an attempt to piece the puzzle together.
According to a new study Walsh reported in the Star Tribune, 61 percent of Minnesota’s prisoners released in 2004 went back to a correctional facility. By comparison nationally there is only a rate of 41 percent (Walsh, 2011). The Commissioner of Corrections Tom Roy went on to challenge the study by stating. “Combining technical violations like use of alcohol with statistics on new crimes is inherently misleading”. I questioned the statements made, especially after taking Social Work 280 and discussing disparities.
Immediately I began to think critically of the arguments and statements as to why we have the problem of increase in recidivism. A few things in the article troubled me. The first is that Minnesota is predominantly a white state and a majority of people incarcerated are of a minority group. Is it possible that micro-aggression within supervision is a contributing factor to recidivism? Also, could the conditions of release be unrealistic? As an educated able-bodied white male I am well aware of the white privilege I carry. However as I have a criminal record, I know how hard it is to fulfill the conditions of release. These conditions are that the person must find employment and a place to live within 30 days. This is very difficult, since jobs are scarce. It is hard to be gainfully employed especially with a tarnish on your record.
I would ask Mr. Roy how he expects people who are released without access to a great deal of resources to find an address, afford a car to get to work, or find a job within the 30 days given. As the second largest piece of the Minnesota budget is allocated to supervising and housing people in correctional facilities behind social security where are we going wrong as a state? I firmly believe this may be due to disparity and micro-aggression, as well as the difficulty in release conditions. It is difficult to find a decent job or place to live due to a criminal record especially if one might face racial micro-aggression or other forms of discrimination. Overall I think that it is deeper than recidivism. I believe it is a disparity problem along with an intolerance of people with a criminal record.
Walsh, P. (2011, April,14). Minnesota leads nation in recidivism. Start Tribune,
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