With all the discussion about computer miscalculations for early release from prisons in Washington state, it is apparent that the conversation is missing critical questions that need to be asked and answered.
What are the international minimal standards for treatment of prisoners? What is the purpose or mission of prison? Is the prison experience designed to help make someone better ? Are individuals coming out of prison equipped for success?
What conditions or experiences make for successful transitions? Are victim’s needs understood? How is harm repaired? Are families and community needs understood?
Who exactly is in prison and why? What are their experiences while incarcerated and as they transition back into families and communities? How do we instill hope in the Department of Corrections? What kind of thoughtful review processes are needed?
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What can we do statewide to reduce crime and provide for viable alternatives to incarceration, reparation of harm, stronger families and communities as well as increased accountability in earned early release and successful re-entry processes?
As we go forward into 2016 I hope that we can work to answer these questions and resolve to bring forward thoughtful, systemwide reforms to build safe, resilient communities that reduce the need for incarceration.