Saturday, November 24, 2007

NY Times: Small number of Houston neighborhoods receive most of cities' prison releases

A handful of Houston neighborhoods receive most inmates returning to that city when they leave Texas prisons, reports New York Times criminal justice correspondent Solomon Moore today("Trying to break the cycle of prison at the street level," Nov. 22 - click on the map to expand the image).

Relying on research that partially drove the expansion of new treatment resources by the Texas Legislature this spring, Moore adumbrates the results of a research and mapping project in Houston that identified neighborhoods most in need of ex-offender re-entry services. Reported Moore:

Last year, 32,585 prisoners were released on state parole in Texas, and many of them returned to neighborhoods where they live among thousands of other parolees and probationers.

Sunnyside is one of 10 neighborhoods in Houston that together accounted for 15 percent of the city’s population, yet received half of the 6,283 prisoners released in Houston in 2005, according to the Justice Mapping Center, a criminal justice research group.

That same dynamic is true in nearly every large city, and it makes all the sense in the world, both economically and morally, to spend money proactively in those neighborhoods on re-entry and diversion programs to prevent crime instead of paying to imprison folks after the fact. For now, though, reports Moore:
new parolees keep coming. Every few weeks, several dozen inmates assemble in the chapel of the state prison in Huntsville on the eve of their release for a two-hour orientation program by Christian outreach workers. The prisoners are offered phone lists of clinics, churches, shelters and drug treatment programs. Then they file out of the chapel and back to their cells for one more night of restless confinement.

It is a shoestring program and most inmates do not participate, said the Rev. Emmett Solomon, a prison minister who leads the classes. “Most of what they get to prepare them for their release, they get right here,” Mr. Solomon said. “But it’s probably too little, too late.”

Mr. Taylor, the Sunnyside drug dealer, was in a recent class. He left for the bus station the next morning, with about 40 other men, wearing tattered, unfashionable donated clothes and carrying their possessions in mesh bags.

As Mr. Taylor got off the bus in Houston later in the afternoon, a passing stranger who called himself Ice welcomed him home.

“Hey man, I know how it is,” he told Mr. Taylor. “I just got out, too.”


Anonymous said...

coming from our prisons and going home to thier prisons and back again is the only cycle they know, where there is very little chance for success.

take a saturday drive and visit sunnyside and kashmere gardens and see why there is virtually no help for these men and women that need the help the most.

Anonymous said...

And this is a surprise why? Because these are the some of the highest crime neighborhoods in Houston?

I suspect these stat's have been high during at least the last 30 years in these same areas.

The only surprise is how low the numbers were for most of montrose and for the South of Westheimer/Beltway 8 ghetto.

I notice 12:00 am doesn't recommend going there late on Saturday night, now?

Bro. Bill said...

Statistically 33-66% of formerly incarcerated people will be re-incarcerated within three years.

More importantly, with less than half-a-chance at lease a third of us will never land behind bars again.

Imagine how things could improve if we were given a hand-up instead of hand-outs.

Bill Kleiber, Released 6 years ago
Restorative Justice Ministries
1229 Avenue J
Huntsville, Texas 77340

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