Roughly 8 in 10 released prisoners reoffend within 6 years, often committing worse crimes. 27 percent of ex-offenders are unemployed. Participation in educational and vocational programming in prison has been shown to increase employment, which in turn drastically reduces the likelihood of recidivating, yet prisons are struggling to maintain the staffing necessary to successfully operate these programs. As many as 1 in 2 correctional positions are unfilled in some states, and even prisons in wealthy, densely populated areas experience vacancy rates as high as 15 percent.
Performance-based incentive funding can mitigate these two issues plaguing our correctional systems. Our proposed solution will give individual correctional facilities financial rewards for successfully improving on specific measures, such as reducing the number of recidivists within 3 to 5 years of release or successfully retaining correctional staff.
Top-down, one-size-fits-all policy prescriptions will not solve problems in corrections. Instead, we should empower each facility to experiment and innovate new policies that work within the culture and institution they know best. Cash rewards to officers and increased facility funding will allow these individual facilities to expand on successful programs.