Tonight, there are more than 2 million Americans locked up in jails and prisons, including 1 out of every 75 men. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, surpassing places like Russia and China. Why the population explosion? Well, one reason is that 52 percent of all prisoners who are released end up going back to prison.
Correspondent Scott Pelley reports for 60 Minutes Wednesday, about a little program in Maryland that claims it may have part of the answer. The Maryland Reentry Partnership says only 11 percent of its ex-cons go back to prison. That's almost unheard of: they rescue nine out of 10. To find out how they do it, 60 Minutes Wednesday spent a year with one ex-con in the program who turned out to be a serious challenge.
Terrance English is a classic example of failure to reform. 60 Minutes Wednesday first met him in the old Maryland Pen in Baltimore, at the end of his third stretch in prison.
He's never been convicted of anything violent; it's been theft, drug possession, small-time dealing. He's 38 years old with no job skills, no high school diploma. What he does have is a relentless addiction to cocaine and heroin.
"I'm addicted. I know I'm addicted," says English. "I try to get away from this addiction, and it keeps resurfacing. My family looking at me like I'm not goin' never change. 'He's gonna be that way until he die.' "
He's being released on probation for the third time. He says it's his last chance to make it with his fiancée and 3-year-old daughter. So this time, English is trying something different. He's volunteered for the Maryland Reentry Partnership. It's run by a non-profit group called the Enterprise Foundation. Joann Levy helped start the partnership three years ago.
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