We found through research that most situations in which there was a drug dependency, there was mental health issues as well. It is very commons for people with addictions to suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. So we were focused heavily on changing the conversation on how these are linked rather than separate issues in the justice system. So looking at scenarios where there was a drug conviction and seeing if mental health played a part in it- could this alter their sentence or what other avenues existed for these people?
Here, we were thinking about all the people that are in prison for a small marijuana charge and how much that affects their lives even though the conversation around legalization is changing.
This question developed from our research about the day to day experience of incarcerated people. We learned that the reality of prison life left men and women with more trauma and mental illness than when they first arrived.
After we gathered what seemed to be high barriers for prisoners re-entering society we focused in on the mental and economic pressures.
This was our final "how might we" question. We focused in on women in washington county because we had the most resources for this population and also wanted to focus on the social and economic pressures as those seemed to be very high.
Our first round of research was collected through interviews, psychologists, Ted talks, and statistics. The findings were visualized into 3 tools: a mind map, a mental model, and a stakeholder map. We used this process to understand what it was like logistically for previously incarcerated peoples to re-enter society.
Some pressure points we found that directed our questions and comprehension were discovering that people re-entering have little to no guidance or resources when they leave prison. Often times the are leaving on parole and are expected to meet certain expectations- like obtain work, pay fines, and meet up with their parole officer frequently.
These do not sound like difficult expectations, but they are leaving prison with no car, no money, often times no friends, often times an un-treated addiction, and a new found freedom they did not previously have in their regimented day-to-day back in prison.
However, research showed that people re-entering will have a high chance of remaining outside of prison if they are surrounded with a positive community. Friends and family that support and encourage avoiding drugs and violence increase the likelihood of remaining outside of prison. Often times people are returning to the same environment that caused them to turn to crime.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and tax payers pay 80 billions dollars to maintain the failing system every year.
However, our research showed that obtaining work and education increases the likelihood of remaining out of prison as well as benefitting society.
After we conducted our first round of research methods, we set out to
interview some people that gave us professional knowledge about the incarceration