When a woman leaves prison, she has nothing but the clothes on her back. She often has no home, no job, no transportation, and no health insurance. Within 24 hours, she must register with the Sheriff’s office and may have to go to another office to register with probation. Newly released women – themselves frequently the survivors of abuse and addiction – often find themselves overwhelmed and with no alternatives but to repeat the same behaviors that landed them in prison years before.
Imagine instead what it is like to leave prison after LEAP: You have participated in an empowering educational program, learning how to get and keep a job, create a business plan, how to use journaling and meditation to enhance your wellness, and a variety of other life skills including substance abuse counseling. A familiar LEAP staff member is there to greet you with clothing, a cell phone, and toiletries. They drive you to meet your post release obligations with law enforcement, and then to your new, temporary home. The next day a LEAP case manager takes you for a prearranged appointment at Transitions, Inc., a LEAP partner that specializes in job placement for ex offenders. In addition, you have the comfort of knowing that your mentor has your back — someone on the outside who already knows you and has helped you through the rigorous coursework.
If success could be measured in smiles and warm feelings, this moment would capture a 100% success rate.
No wonder the recidivism rate has never gone higher than 6% since LEAP’s inception nearly a decade ago.
There are so many measures of success: families re-united, self-esteemed restored, housing, jobs, and more. Recidivism – the rate at which ex-prisoners return to prison for new crimes – is often the one we are asked about. While recidivism rates and estimates vary, most studies cite a rate of between one-third and two-thirds. That means that, for the general prison population, between 33% and 66% of ex-prisoners wind up back in prison for newly committed crimes within a few years of release.
At LEAP, the recidivism rate of our graduates has varied from 4%-6%.
The LEAP program works.
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