Dear Editor:

On December 16, 2009, the prison board for the Carbon County Correctional Center in Nesquehoning unanimously accepted a re-entry program for the prison to help reduce resident inmates' chances of becoming repeat offenders.

Re-entry has two phases. Phase One is prerelease and Phase Two is post release. Post release Phase Two involves the establishment of a treatment half way house for Carbon County including house supervision and nightly courses at the house as well as job assistance and mentoring.

The prison is presently in Phase One which involves bringing in instructional courses in arts, education, crafts, vocation, life skills, or therapy. Such courses will help resident inmates prepare for when they are released such courses as anger management, parenting, finances, relationships, job interviewing and resume writing. Reformers Anonomous, AA and NA help resident inmates deal with real life situations upon release.

On average, two out of three released prisoners nationwide will be rearrested and one in two will return to prison within three years of release. In 2006, states spend an estimated $2 billion on prison construction, three times the amount they were spending 15 years earlier. At the county level, prison costs are generally the highest budget item that the county tax payer has to pay for with his or her taxes. (The re-entry program is volunteer and is at $0 cost to the county tax payer.)

So adding on or building new prisons is not the answer. Reducing the recidivism (return) rate to the prison is the answer. External punitive confinement alone does not work. Resident inmates have to intrinsically want to change on the inside.

They also need help upon release to find housing and employment.

Other counties like Lehigh, Northampton, Lancaster and Pike have found that re-entry works in reducing recidivism.

Here in Carbon County we are in need of volunteer teachers to help teach courses in education, arts, crafts, life skills, vocation or therapy. Educational credentials are not necessary, just a little enthusiasm and a knowledge of your subject area.

After a prison background check and a short orientation your prison identification will be issued, and you will be on your way to helping resident inmates rebuild their lives. Please call (570) 386-3637 for more information or to volunteer. You can make a difference.

Steve Boyd

Mahoning Township

Carbon County

Correctional Re-entry coordinator