Mass incarceration is a growing problem, and it’s a growing problem in Minnesota. As MinnPost reported in June, harsher penalties for DWIs, drugs, and other offenses caused the state’s prison population to spike in recent years.
Since 2000, the rate of incarceration — the number of inmates per 100,000 residents — went up 42 percent. During that same time period, the crime rate in Minnesota dropped significantly. According to a study from the Brennan Center for Justice, the rise in imprisonment didn’t have any significant impact on the crime decline.
LEAD is transforming the national discussion about how to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration. LEAD began in Seattle 2011 as a bold new response to a familiar problem. After decades of waging a war on drugs in Seattle, nobody was satisfied with results — drug use and addiction were just as prevalent as ever, incarceration rates had skyrocketed, the entire system was marked by outrageous racial disparities.
LEAD is a unique collaboration, including law enforcement, public defenders, human service agencies, business leaders, community groups, and elected officials. Results show that recidivism is down and health and wellbeing of participants has improved.
This integrated and innovative approach has been used by Better Futures Minnesota since 2007, and we are proud to say that a community-based, compassionate, integrated-care model has shown real results. For the men at Better Futures, less than 20 percent are returning to prison for a new crime within a year of release, a rate that is about three times lower than other documented results. What’s more, 86 percent of the men living in housing financed by Better Futures are employed or in school. Since our inception, Better Futures has employed more than 550 men in our lines of business.
We believe change is a collaborative exercise. It takes a coordinated team working together to rebuild a life. Through trauma-informed integrated care, we seek to help men transform their lives and build a better future for themselves, their family, and their community.
To learn more about Better Futures Minnesota, visit www.betterfuturesminnesota.com.