About third of inmates wind up back in prison

When men and women are released from prison, they have few programs to help them find work and return to the community.

Local officials say that is a big reason why about a third of them were returned to prison within three years of their release, according to numbers from the Indiana Department of Correction for 2012, the most recent year available.

Statewide, 36 percent of former inmates returned to prison within three years. Other central Indiana counties ranged from a low of 26 percent in Morgan County to a high of 46 percent in Marion County, the data showed.

Local officials said they weren’t surprised Johnson County’s rate was 34 percent, based on the number of offenders they see back in court again after their release.

Each case is different, but one issue is a lack of programs to get released inmates back into the community, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.

That is part of the county’s focus with a new community corrections facility, which would have more classroom space for offenders to be able to take classes and go through programs that would help them, Sheriff Doug Cox said.

Officials have discussed options for programs that could be offered, such as how to find work and to get help for drug and alcohol abuse.

“There are currently not enough programs for people heading back into the population,” Cox said.

State prisons have re-entry programs for offenders before they are released, which include job training, GED testing and substance abuse treatment. Once they are released, many offenders are monitored through either the parole or probation program.

Statewide, the rate of offenders being returned to prison within three years stayed between 36 and 39 percent in the past 10 years, according to Indiana Department of Correction data.

Of those who returned, about half had committed a new crime, and the other half had violated the requirements of their parole.

And 90 percent of those who returned had served a sentence of less than five years in prison, the data showed.

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.