Release and Recidivism
We all want our communities to be safe and our criminal justice system to be fair, humane and effective. When formerly incarcerated people return to their communities without a safety net, their recidivism rates run well above 60 percent. Some states have provided a safety net, such as job training, housing assistance, treatment for substance abuse and mental health and more, which, substantially reduces recidivism. What is different in communities with lower recidivism rates? What are the costs and benefits of our current practices and what opportunities are there to improve our systems? This conversation explores opportunities and obstacles to change with the goal that our community is safe for everyone.
Let's Get Started!
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
What are your thoughts on Release and Recidivism? (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows.
- What is an appropriate “road back to success” in our community for people who have been convicted?
- If you or a loved one has been incarcerated, what did you/they need most (and when) upon release?
- Since jobs and housing, along with other support, are needed to reduce recidivism, what solutions would you recommend?
- Where is community safety and post-release programs on your top 10 community focus list? Why?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?