How to stop prison recidivism?

1 Educate the prisoners. Prisoners tend to have lower academic qualifications than non-prisoners. Widen the traditional view of education and include trades and apprenticeships into the education program. Explore the possibilities of starting a prison farm or garden, as this sort of work is thought to be therapeutic. The possibility of having a future outside of crime might help turn a prisoner's life around.

2 Develop a course of life skills, including subjects such as budgeting, anger management, assertiveness and child development. This is particularly relevant for the younger prisoner. Include incentives for successful completion of these courses, including a graduation ceremony. This will improve the sense of self-worth of a prisoner, and this may increase his motivation to achieve more. Anger management will help the prisoner develop alternative coping mechanisms that he or she may use outside the prison walls.

3 Develop links with other programs and local employers. Initiate systems such as on-the-job training programs, where the program finances up to 50 percent of the first six months of employment. This is an incentive for the employers to hire ex-prisoners, and hopefully keep them hired when this period has elapsed. An employed person has more to lose by committing a crime.

4 Prepare the inmates for employment by setting up mock interviews and discussing employable skills. Consider having a paid employment program within the prison. Make pay conditional on some of it being donated to victims' charities. Engage the prisoners in fund-raising or charitable efforts, fostering a sense of reparation and improving self-esteem. This good feeling may help the prisoner make better decisions in the future.