Removing the Roadblocks to Rehabilitation

By Tina Rosenberg

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Delancey Street Foundation’s buildings along the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

What works and what doesn’t work to solve a social problem is often no mystery.  The mystery is why we so often persist in doing what doesn’t work.  The topic of Tuesday’s column — prisoner re-entry into the community — offers myriad examples.   One is the practice of dropping people getting out of jail or prison right back into the neighborhoods where they got in trouble in the first place.  Intuition tells us that this is a bad idea: the old street corners and the old friends seem like a recipe for the old troubles.  Research on this idea is rare and hard to do — it’s tough to get around the problem that the person who chooses not to go home may have other qualities that make him successful.
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