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Ryan Cox's Humane Prison System Talk Examines Recidivism Rates

By: Vasiliki Marapas - Published: Dec 11, 2013 • References:
Ryan Cox investigates the flawed criminal justice system in Texas in his humane prison system talk. Since the 1980s, Texas has experienced a jump in their incarceration rate, going from half a million to 2.3 million incarcerated individuals, effectively making them the largest jailer in the world. This doesn't even account for the 8 million who are currently on probation or on parole. In comparison to other countries, Texas incarcerates more people and at a higher rate; in fact, they incarcerate 4 times more than countries that are considered to be authoritarian.

Cox specifically considers Texas' recidivism rate as one of the more problematic aspects of the system: 60% of released individuals return to prison within the first five years. He cites dehumanizing environments, draconian prison sentences (despite the fact that studies show longer sentences have minimal deterrence effect after a certain threshold,) and lack of reintegration for the high rates.

In comparison, Norway has created an open prison system that mimics the outside world in order to decrease stigma and dehumanization as well as foster integration. Though some scholars suggest that America is not psychologically capable of creating institutions similar to Norway's model, Cox suggests that since we're already spending similar costs on our prisoners, we should get a better return on our investment with lower recidivism rates. Stats for Humanizing Prison Systems Trending: Older & Average
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