Race and prison re-entry were the topics of today's Summer Institute at Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems. Professor of Public Policy Steven Raphael from the University of California, Berkeley says incarceration rates have increased dramatically over the last 35 years, mostly because of longer sentences and more offenses leading to jail time, and those people impacted most are relatively uneducated African American males.
When released, many men face a crushing burden of arrears in child support that have mounted up while they were in prison. Raphael says re-entry planning in the areas of addiction, housing and employment can increase success for men facing many obstacles to "going straight". He recommends allowing ex-convicts to receive Pell grants and public housing.
Some public policies yield results years after resources are invested, e.g., early childhood education, like Head Start, decreases the likelihood a child will break the law as an adult.
Three more summer institutes will be presented at Pitt.