Spring 2017: The Return Home
Each year, more than 700,000 individuals are released from prison. Another 9 million are sent home from local jails. Within three years, chances are strong that each of these individuals will re-offend and find themselves back in jail, suggesting that the school-to-prison pipeline only works in one direction. What can we do to improve the chances for those who have served their time?
This spring, Speech Matters will examine the pipeline in reverse. We will visit jails and prisons to see how inmates are prepared for life after incarceration. We will talk to superintendents who believe that inmates deserve a second chance, to case workers who are working to make the transition more successful, and to the brave men and women who are negotiating the big step back to society. At some point in the semester, we will travel to Amsterdam, to speak with experts, case workers, and activists about the Dutch policies on re-entry.
As with last year’s highly-acclaimed pilot of Speech Matters, which focused on the language being used to describe addiction, this year’s program looks at how politicians, social service providers, community members, and the recently incarcerated talk about responsibility, redemption, and the opportunity to move forward. We’ll look at the principles behind the various political arguments—libertarian, liberal, and conservative—and see which metaphors and political values are being employed. Most importantly, we’ll look for opportunities to reframe the debate so that the return trip seems as inevitable as the journey to jail.