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23 September 2010

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Public Policy and External Relations
September 22, 2010
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In this issue:

Cultivating Life Behind Bars

Missouri Tells Judges Cost of Sentences

Inmates Prepare for Outside World Through Reentry Services Program

It's Time to Lift the Ban on Pell Grants for Prisoners

Cultivating Life Behind Bars

By: Sara Schreiber, Officer.com 

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Work crews sort trash on the recycle line at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo: Roe Simmons

A number of prisons and correctional facilities today are growing their tomatoes and eating them, too. "Green" prisons that incorporate farming and sustainability programs reap real benefits. Aside from saving money and reducing waste, they are also shown to have enormous impact on the inmates themselves -- involving them in a host of maintenance activities and providing useful job skills upon release. Some even argue the programs go a long way in reducing recidivism. Maybe your corrections facility is looking for ways to cut costs and engage its inmate population. If so, on-site gardens and organic farms are a great place to start. But why stop there? Sustainability and green training initiatives can take on many forms.

Getting green off the ground

   From 1853 to 1979 the Southeast Correctional Institution (SCI) in Lancaster, Ohio had detained adjudicated juveniles, and in 1980 became an adult state correctional facility. Around the same time, the minimum to medium security prison adopted a farming operation that continues to be worked by offenders and supervised by a civilian staff. Now SCI, along with Vera Institute and the Ohio Green Prison Project (OGPP), is developing a pilot project to demonstrate that training incarcerated people to retrofit prisons with energy-efficient green technology can make facilities more cost-effective. The project will provide trainees with job skills to prepare them for careers in the burgeoning green economy, making them more likely to succeed when they return to their communities. The lower operating and energy costs are expected to result in savings for SCI and Ohio taxpayers.

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Missouri Tells Judges Cost of Sentences

By: Monica Davey, The New York Times 

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ST. LOUIS - When judges here sentence convicted criminals, a new and unusual variable is available for them to consider: what a given punishment will cost the State of Missouri.

For someone convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, for instance, a judge might now learn that a three-year prison sentence would run more than $37,000 while probation would cost $6,770. A second-degree robbery, a judge could be told, would carry a price tag of less than $9,000 for five years of intensive probation, but more than $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole afterward. The bill for a murderer's 30-year prison term: $504,690.

Legal experts say no other state systematically provides such information to judges, a practice put into effect here last month by the state's sentencing advisory commission, an appointed board that offers guidance on criminal sentencing.

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Inmates Prepare for Outside World Through Reentry Services Program

By: Amanda Thomas, The Times-Georgian 

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Ruthie Shelton of the Georgia Department of Corrections speaks to inmates Tuesday at the Carroll County Prison during a Re-Entry Services program ceremony. (Thomas O'Connor/Times-Georgian)

After graduating from the Carroll County NAACP's Re-Entry Services program, 38 inmates returned to their prison lives with new knowledge on how to survive when they return to the outside world.

While not typically a place of celebration, the mood represented at the prison Tuesday night was that of accomplishment as the inmates were congratulated on completing their month in the program, which began on Aug. 17.

The graduates were all smiles as they accepted certificates of completion.

There was no evidence of cliques or animosity toward the system that night as inmates applauded each other on their accomplishments and shared their testimonies on how the program enriched their lives. They talked about finally being provided with a road map that will help guide them on the outside and about the powerful messages they received that inspired them to improve their lives.

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It's Time to Lift the Ban on Pell Grants for Prisoners

By: Jamaal Abdul-Alim, CampusProgress.org 

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Back in 1994, shortly after 22-year-old Seth Ferranti was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role as the leader of a drug ring, he took advantage of the Federal Pell Grant in order to get a college education while serving his time.

He was among the last wave of American prisoners to do so.

Even though abundant research found that providing a college education for incarcerated individuals greatly lowers their chances of reoffending, conservative lawmakers-with dubious claims that inmates were depriving law-abiding citizens of Pell grants-ignored the research, denigrated the wishes of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell, father of Pell grants, and in 1994 passed legislation that put the kibosh on federal Pell grants for those behind bars.

Ferranti-now 39, holds an A.A. and B.A., and has become a published author-turned to his parents for the money he needed to continue his college education in prison. But most prisoners, Ferranti says, don't have such resources at their disposal and would benefit greatly from having Pell grants restored.

"There needs to be something in place to allow prisoners that have the drive and ambition to get a college degree to get it," Ferranti adds, speaking via e-mail from the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Penn.

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Follow Us on Twitter! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Follow @SaferFoundation on Twitter for more updates on criminal justice news and more information about the organization. We appreciate your support! 

Public Policy and External Relations Contacts

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B. Diane Williams, President / CEO

Veronica Cunningham, Vice President, Public Policy and External Relations
Kenneth Clarke, Associate Vice President, Development and Marketing

Anthony Lowery, Director, Policy and Advocacy

phone: 312-922-2200

www.saferfoundation.org

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* Many articles refer to people with criminal records as "ex-offenders" or "offenders". While we appreciate all the positive press these issues receive, we are working to use other terms to describe our clients that do not carry such negative connotations. These terms include "people with criminal records" or "people reentering society".

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

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