Can theater help solve California's prison overcrowding crisis? The answer is yes.
The recent prison compromise between Gov. Jerry Brown and the state
Senate presents California with a unique opportunity to provide a
durable, transformative solution to its prison overcrowding problem by
focusing on rehabilitation. One reason for the crowding crisis is
California's highest-in-the-nation 63.7 percent recidivism rate. That
means for every 1000 inmates that leave prison, 637 commit new crimes
and land back in prison.
There is a better way -- and it saves taxpayer dollars.
Multiple studies show in-prison rehabilitation programs can
significantly reduce the percentage of prisoners who re-offend. If
California could reduce its recidivism rate by just 10 percent, that
alone would solve the crowding problem. Any successful system of
rehabilitation requires multiple components, ranging from mental health
and drug treatment to education and skills training. One aspect that may
not be initially obvious, however, is the power of art and theater.