Recurrent statistics show that up to one in five people released from jail in Northern Ireland, or who received a non-custodial sentence, reoffended again within three months. Those aged under 17 were the most likely to commit another crime within that period of time.
That bald statistic sums up the difficulty of turning people away from criminal behaviour once they have embarked down that path. Those who find themselves in the dock for crimes such as car theft, drug abuse, criminal damage or offences against another person are likely to be ill-educated, unemployed, have low self-esteem and see no future improvement in their life chances.
Today, we report on a innovative project to help those who have run foul of the criminal justice system. Ground maintenance firm Outwork, run by The Turnaround Project, has just won a year's contract to look after Alpha Housing's 30 local sites, which are home to around 1,000 elderly people.
The work enables young people to learn about horticulture and ground maintenance and improves their chances of finding employment elsewhere.
One of the greatest difficulties faced by ex-prisoners is convincing employers that they really want to turn their lives around. The project highlighted may have had modest success to date in placing nine young people in jobs, but from small acorns mighty oaks can grow.
The young people don't just learn ground maintenance skills but also how to interact with residents and perhaps seek to gain some qualifications.
A young man interviewed in the article speaks with refreshing candour about his dead-end life before being jailed.
Expelled from school for drug taking, his life spiralled downwards until, inevitably, the law caught up with him.
While he quickly got over the shock of incarceration, he was determined that he would not be going back after his release.
He realised that life held more for him than he had experienced and grasped the chance of a new start with both hands.
The link-up between the young people's scheme and the housing body is an example of the kind of initiative that is required on a larger scale.
Of course, it requires companies with foresight and a social conscience to take on the ex-prisoners and give them another chance.
But it could pay dividends. It costs around £55,000 a year to keep someone in prison in Northern Ireland, the highest figure in the UK.
On purely economic grounds, it makes sense to try an alternative approach.