Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Gate Money

In California, when a prisoner paroles, he or she is given $200 gate money. S/he is then expected to report to his/her parole officer the next day. If the parolee is on high control parole, the parole officer will pick him up and drop him off to his place of residence.

I don't know when the gate money program started, but it has been in place since the 19 years I've been in prison. I'm positive that it has been longer than that. Yet, as the cost of living has increased, departing parolees still get only $200. It's one thing when parolees have homes and families to return to. For many parolees who have nowhere to go, $200 is all they have.

Without self-help or vocational programs to rehabilitate prisoners before they re-enter society, is it any wonder that the warehousing of prisoners soared more than 500% from 1980 to 2000 with a 60% recidivism rate?

Punishment, who does it hurt? Cui bono?

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