Keep 'em out


One of the most vexing quandaries about the penal system is keeping the same folks from returning again and again and again.

Recidivism, if you will. With that in mind, Harford County started a mediation program in May as another effort to lessen the chances that recently-released prisoners will fall into the same patterns that can only lead them back to jail. To underscore the importance of the program, Harford County leaders recently gathered as a way to highlight the program and what it can may for those returning to society and which can only be a good thing for the law-abiding folks. Harford County Executive David Craig, Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane, Elizabeth Hendrix, director of Harford County Community Services, and Ellwood DeHaven, the warden of the Harford County Detention Center all gathered.

"Mediation greatly supports the transition of individuals from prison back into communities," Craig said in a recent news release. "Nationally, recidivism rates hover at nearly 70 percent, where communities continue to struggle with high unemployment, high rates of addiction, and other difficulties."

The things that lead many to jail – poorly equipped to be a positive member of society, no job, no money, substance abuse and emotional/mental issues – don't change while someone is incarcerated. So when they're released, their path is generally pointed right back to jail. Anything jails, law enforcement or government agencies can do to change that direction is worth trying.

"Here in Harford County, our re-entry mediation program will work to rebuild positive relationships," Craig said in that statement, "a proven strategy to reduce recidivism and increase the rate of successful re-entry." If the county's program can do anything to keep fewer people from going back to jail, then it will be a success worthy of more than just another meeting to talk about it.

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