Locked In, Locked Out: How ignoring causes of crime and barriers to reintegration of ex-prisoners hurts us all

April 20, 2006 :: Gordon Leigh
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"Getting tough on crime" is a perennially attractive political stance, which usually translates into calls for more policing dollars and tougher sentencing. But these alone don''t stop people from committing crimes in the first place, and they don''t address what happens after arrests, convictions and sentences are served.

Those who serve time in our jails come from communities in which they leave families, circumstances and associates behind, and they must eventually return to a community. When they do, things that the rest of us might take for granted can become impossible barriers.

The realities of life after jail are unknown to most citizens who have not experienced them first-hand. But the cost of these realities is not just paid by those who go to and return from jail. Failure to consider effective crime prevention strategies or effective reintegration hurts families, friends, co-workers and the larger community. It costs us all.

What are the "barriers" to public recognition of these costs, and of practical ways to do something pro-active about them? What are the public policy and community consequences of placing these matters "out of sight, out of mind?"

Speaker: Gordon Leigh

Gordon Leigh is Executive Director of the Lethbridge John Howard Society. He has many years of experience working first hand with those returning from prison to the community, as well as with changing policy and political priorities that have affected both prisoners and the communities they come from and return to. He has headed a number of local initiatives, including a Problem Gambling Prevention and Awareness Program for inmates and the Life Without Gambling program for the larger community. He is also the author of the best-selling The Law of the Land: A Criminal Code for Kids.

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