Letter to the editor: Assist in rehabilitation
Having lived on both sides of our criminal justice system, through my own incarceration to now assisting re-entrants back into society as the founder of Breaking the Chainz Inc., I’ve seen multiple stumbling blocks to success: access to safe housing, family reunification, job readiness, substance abuse treatment, anger management, financial literacy, conflict resolution and decision-making skills among them. Without support, returning citizens are 13 percent more likely to be rearrested, and 21 percent more likely to return to prison, according to the National Justice Bureau.
Senate Bill 14, introduced by State Sens. Anthony Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat, and Camera Bartolotta, a Western Pennsylvania Republican, is a first step toward a more just system. Through rational responses to technical violations, incentivizing good behavior and ensuring that probationers have access to the services they need to be successful, the co-sponsors of this legislation recognize the importance of community supervision that rehabilitates offenders.
While there is no easy fix to this sweltering problem, there is broad support for reforms that will support those individuals who both want and need assistance as they strive for change. We should continue to push for reforms that move our communities away from incarceration and toward rehabilitation.
Dr. Kevin Dolphin
The writer is founder of Breaking the Chainz Inc., a community-prison outreach program.