Dr. Kiminori Nakamura was recently interviewed by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest television station operator in the U.S., regarding the early release of 6,000 federal inmates due to changes in federal sentencing guidelines that impact drug offenders and overcrowding of federal prison facilities.
Though the article focused on how the release, scheduled to be between October 30 and November 2, 2015, was misguided policy, and expressed concern from multiple sources, especially law enforcement, that communities could not handle the largest one-time release of federal prisoners to date, Professor Nakamura noted a more nuanced concern.
He first explained that it is important to take the number “6,000” in perspective. With over 600,000 state and federal prisoners released each year, which is over 12,000 inmates each week, 6,000 federal inmates being released into all 50 states and DC is in actuality not as alarming as critics of the policy are illustrating it as.
However, what Dr. Nakamura did note as concerning is the decision to release many of the 6,000 inmates to halfway houses. According to a recidivism study Nakamura conducted with the Pennsylvania Department of Correction’s research team, headed by Dr. Bret Bucklen, a recent Ph.D. graduate from our department, those who transition through halfway houses tend to have marginally higher recidivism rates than those paroled directly from prison to the street, which to Nakamura brings into question the effectiveness of halfway houses in facilitating successful reentry and protecting public safety.
The interview was part of the news that was aired in local TV stations across the country. The article can be found on Fox Baltimore’s website: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/nation-world/law-enforcement-group-claims-doj-early-release-of-6000-drug-offenders-is-a-bad-idea