America has an incarceration problem — the “land of the free” has the distinction of having the largest prison population in the world — per capita and in the total number of prisoners.
More than 10,000,000 individuals were arrested in America last year. In an interview with CBS News, Michael Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice, cited a study titled “The incarceration epidemic.”
Jacobson said, “The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population, but we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners— we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any country on Earth.”
Equal Justice Initiative reports that “more than half of all Americans have a family member who has been incarcerated.”
“The cost of incarceration is more than the $167/day reported by the Department of Corrections. The cost to society, communities, and families is incalculable,” said Gary Ray, Director of the Set Free Indeed program.
Ray continued, “There should be justice, and crime should be punished, but there should also be rehabilitation. Too many incarcerated individuals leave prison bitter and broken—ill-equipped and unprepared to enjoy a successful and positive life.”
The stats support Ray’s assertion. The justice group, World Population View, notes that in America, “almost 44% of criminals released return before the first year out of prison … about 68% [are] arrested for a new crime within three years, and 77% within five years.”
Ray’s Set Free Indeed program aims at providing meaningful and practical support to the incarcerated and their families. “We aim to offer consultation services to those facing incarceration and to families of the incarcerated,” said Ray.
“Soon we will launch several Online support groups and provide weekly podcast support teachings and monthly webinars.”
“We also have a new (295-page) handbook for inmates and families titled, SET FREE,” added Ray. “The book is designed to help families find hope and understand what to expect. The SET FREE book also presents a 14-month plan to aid inmates in preparing for a successful future, and a listing of post-exit resources individuals can access.”
Ray is currently reaching out to DOC and government leaders to propose the introduction of DOC or regional level SET FREE pilot programs. “Reducing recidivism by just 5% will save a small state such as Washington or Oregon millions of dollars a year, not to mention the positive impact this can have on families and communities,” said Ray.
“We’re looking for that open door to prove the program on a large scale. We hope to see the SET FREE Handbook made available to every prisoner with 14 months or less on their sentence as we believe it provides hope and direction and positions the weary for a bright future.
“We have the tools (more than a dozen books, teaching videos, and a presence on several Online platforms), and with the completion of the SET FREE Handbook, we’re now ready to address America’s big social justice problem in a big way,” concluded Ray.
Ray invites RTM readers to find out more.
Click HERE to access a two-minute video that profiles the SET FREE INDEED program.
Click HERE for an excerpt of the SET FREE Handbook.
Click HERE to order your copy of the SET FREE Handbook or to send a copy to an inmate from our DOC-approved publisher.
Click HERE to email the SET FREE INDEED office.
Click HERE for additional information on the SET FREE INDEED program.
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