Koch Project Tests New Inmate Rehab Model

A project funded by the network aligned with billionaire Charles Koch will monitor 1,100 inmates in four states after they are released from prison starting Aug. 1 to help them reintegrate into society, reports the Washington Post. Through “Safe Streets and Second Chances,” Florida State University researchers will evaluate former inmates for 15 months. The project is in a $4 million pilot phase to test the effectiveness of a reentry model that focuses on individualized plans to help inmates find healthy coping and thinking patterns, the right employment opportunities and positive social engagement. Researchers have been interviewing men and women housed in 48 prisons in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Overhauling the criminal justice system is a priority of the network, which leans libertarian with a small-government, free-market agenda. The network is advocating a shift in the criminal justice system toward rehabilitation and reducing recidivism, rather than focusing on punishment. For years, the network has pushed for bipartisan support for overhauling the criminal justice system and has teamed up with Van Jones, a former Obama administration official and CNN political commentator. Researchers found prisoners overwhelmingly optimistic about their chances of rehabilitation in life outside prison but generally had high levels of trauma. The majority reported having a close friend or family member murdered, and 58 percent reported a drug use disorder. People with untreated trauma symptoms are more likely to become impulsive and incorrectly perceive threats, which could lead to an act of crime, says Carrie Pettus-Davis, a Florida State University professor and the lead researcher.