Original air date: Jan 7, 2009
Of the approximately 22,000 inmates released from North Carolina prisons each year, about half are re-arrested within three years.
Such a high rate of recidivism, or return to criminal behavior, reveals the challenges inmates face transitioning back into society after spending time in prison.
Most of them are drug addicts when they enter prison, and, they often have difficulty readjusting to society when they are released. Their criminal records make it difficult to find jobs and housing. And many of them lack a good education or job skills.
They often return to drugs, the streets and the lives that got them into prison in the first place.
There is not enough funding to provide the substance-abuse counseling, housing, education, job-training and other services they need to help them transition back into the community, yet experts say the cost of those services is far cheaper than the average $75 per day it costs to house an inmate in prison.
“I was just out there for a little bit of time, and I slipped back," said Kerry Norman, 38, who has been in and out of prison for most of his adult life. "I slipped back. I started right back where I left off 8½ years ago.”
Focal Point: Time and Time Again follows Norman's path – his life in prison, his most recent release, his struggles as he tries to transition back into society. It also follows Norman after he is re-arrested and returned to prison 37 days after his release.
Norman’s story illustrates the challenges inmates face trying to return to life on the outside and the challenges probation and parole officers and social workers face trying to help them make it and avoid a return trip to prison.
Hosted by WRAL News anchor David Crabtree, Focal Point: Time and Time Again also looks at possible solutions to the problem of recidivism.
Watch the documentary
Focal Point extra
In a session designed to help them transition back into the community, inmates at Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh who are getting close to their release dates share their feelings about prison and returning to society. Watch the video.
- N.C. Department of Correction
- N.C. Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission
- Criminal Justice Resource Center