UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 22, 2009

VERMONT TRIES NEW APPROACH WITH NEWLY RELEASED OFFENDERS

Jenna Russell, Boston Globe - Vermont corrections officials are trying a radical new strategy to reintegrate the state's worst offenders into society: Team them up with groups of students, parents, businesspeople, and retirees in the towns they return to after prison, and let these surrogate families and friends show them how they can fit in again. Modeling their efforts on a successful Canadian program, towns across Vermont are matching felons who have served time in prison for sexually abusing children, beating up family members, dealing drugs, and other offenses with artists, barbers, lawyers, teachers, and retirees. The volunteers help the returning offenders find jobs and apartments, give them rides and advice, and socialize with them. The idea, which is backed by studies of the Canadian program, is that former inmates who feel connected to the places where they live are less likely to break laws again. The Vermont Department of Corrections is one of the first in the United States to embrace the approach, using a three-year $2 million federal grant it received in 2003, said Derek Miodownik, the grant manager.

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