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THIS WEEK: Out of prison and staying out

The Biden Administration is adding to a Quad City group's effort to end the revolving door of crime

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Biden Administration announced plans to improve the chances that people leaving prison will not return.

"Supporting successful reentry is something that people on both sides of the aisle have long recognized reduces recidivism," said White House Domestic Policy advisor Susan Rice.

Recidivism has long plagued America's prison system.

A 10-year Department of Justice study that ended in 2018 found that two-thirds of prisoners released were arrested within three years and four out of five were arrested within ten.

"I think those stats are staggering," said Quad City Safer Foundation director Erica Lee on "News  8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

"And it's hard to hear, but it's real."

You can hear our entire interview with Safer Foundation director Erica Lee on THE CITIES PODCAST.

So the federal government is launching an initiative that includes $145 million to develop "reentry plans" for incarcerated persons, which would connect them to resources, such as jobs, housing, and loans upon being released.

It calls for: expanded access to government jobs, a quicker benefits restoration process for veterans getting out of incarceration, and an expansion of access to health care and housing among other things.

"Our nation must offer people who have been incarcerated meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation," said White House counsel Dana Remus.

Jack Fulscher is considered a success story.

But he wouldn't have thought that when he was a teenager.

"You ain't nothing, you're never gonna be nothing."

An undercover drug agent arrested him at 17 on felony drug charges.

"Six to 30 years when you're 17, that's like giving somebody a life sentence."

Fulscher found the group Safer Foundation whose mission is to help offenders transition into Society by getting them work skills, job opportunities, and second chances.

Fulscher is now a Deere Harvester Works inspector.

"And if you take, if you pay attention, they'll give you all that guidance and they can help you with the things that you probably think that you're helpless with."

It's what Safer Foundation's leaders said is at the core of their mission.

"There's lots of barriers people face when they get out of correctional institutions and we just want to make sure that we're here to help them you know with education, jobs, housing," said Lee.

There are 2.1 million people behind bars in the United States, the highest incarceration rate in the world.

All too often, they end up back in the prison system because the structure they saw in prison is gone, and the bad influences outside prison are all still there.

"As people get out and where are they coming back to, what type of support do they have to keep that good work that might have happened in the correctional institution flowing in the community," said Lee.

Iowa and Illinois also study recidivism rates in their prison population.  You can find Iowa's statistics here and find the Illinois statistics here.

Offering a second chance is important.

But second chances are only good if taken seriously.

"I turned around the things that weren't working for me, figured out what could work, and then put it to the best work that I could," said Fulscher.

Watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.

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