WHAT: Taxpayer dollars intended for prison systems to help rehabilitate criminals rose from $30 billion to $52 billion annually in the past decade. But some 43 percent of ex-cons commit crimes within three years of release and go back behind bars.
HOW TO HELP: A new study by the Pew Center on the States suggested that stubborn recidivism rates prove current programs and policies for stopping repeat offenders don’t work, and lawmakers should look at sentences for nonviolent criminals that don’t involve prison.
WHY TO CHANGE: California, home of the nation’s largest prison system, could save $233 million a year by slashing its recidivism 10 percent, the report said. And the 41 states in the study could save $635 million annually with 10 percent less recidivism.