200 elderly lifers got out of prison en masse. Would they land back behind bars?


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The School of Social Work is mentioned in a Miami Herald story that looked at a UMB program designed to reduce recidivism.

"Five years ago, nearly 200 elderly lifers were released from prison en masse – people who all had been convicted and sentenced before 1981, under jury instructions that were found unconstitutional in the case Unger v. Maryland. It created a natural experiment: Was it safe to release all these onetime violent criminals? Or, would they land right back in prison?

The results are in, according to a study from Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The Ungers, as they're called, have clocked a recidivism rate of just 3 percent. Researchers have found that, on average, two-thirds of the nation's state prisoners are arrested again within three years of release; about half are reincarcerated. JPI estimates the state's averted costs at close to $1 million per individual released.

It was not an easy path, but with a relatively small investment in supportive services (about $6,000 per person), the elders, on average 64 years old, are finding their way in society."

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