Ex-Prisoners Need a Second Second Chance

There is a social stigma that has been portrayed throughout recent years that has prevented the employment of ex-prisoners. I have sorrowed over this as I witnessed my own brother after being incarcerated for 16 years, and with education received within his institution, could not find employment for over a year after his release. This is not just a problem close to home, it is all over our nation, prisoners are released every day yet they still don’t seem to fit in due to the social stigma that has attached to most employers and employment agencies. This impacts the decisions that the ex-prisoners will do in the future.

Some ex-prisoners may struggle for a while and some may give up and result back to doing crime. This is called recidivism. Recidivism is like a disease that is not a result of previous criminal activities of ex-convicts; it is a result of society not accepting ex-prisoners as equals to the good samaritan society. It costs a lot of money to house an inmate in our growing population of criminals, but it is cheaper to educate them and keep them out of prison. This is only half the solution; employers need to be restricted to when they can process background checks in their hiring process.

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Employers should be unaware and not give personal judgments when hiring. The fact of the matter is ex-prisoners are just as important to our society, our economy, and our workforce. They can help and contribute and do well if given the chance. Ex-prisoners, when released, should be accepted and integrated amongst us with more opportunities. Less money needs to be spent on building more prisons, and more money needs to be spent on programs, and education to prisoners to help them cope with re-entry to society. The social stigma unfortunately is hard to diminish by itself.

It’s like the stigma of racism that still happens in certain parts of our country, still today it lingers in the back of some people’s minds. This is something that has been erased from history but not forgotten in the minds of people who just can’t completely let go of the thoughts of our ancestors in the time of slavery. Same goes for criminals; the thought that someone has done a mistake against society is hard to accept. But if you think about it, can a criminal get rehabilitated after so many years? I think so.

If a child is punished at a fairly young age for his or her actions does the child refrain from doing it again? Our legal justice system is designed to do just that, by rehabilitation, and by institutionalizing and blinding our current prisoners from the outside world. For example, if a criminal burglarized many homes and was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison, thereafter upon his release he then may feel he doesn’t fit or even realize the changes in technology and advancements in the prevention of burglaries, he may feel induced to commit crime again but most likely will refrain himself.

It’s like a fresh start for him to try something new, something he never had, a good role in society. Some people may disagree with this scenario, these people think that criminals gain their criminal thoughts naturally, and are unchangeable. Within the employment domain, the criminal credential has indeed become a salient marker for employers, with increasing numbers using background checks to screen out undesirable applicants. The majority of employers claim that they would not knowingly hire an applicant with a criminal background.

These employers appear less concerned about specific information conveyed by a criminal conviction and its bearing on a particular job, but rather view this credential as an indicator of general employability or trustworthiness. Well beyond the single incident at its origin, the credential comes to stand for a broader internal disposition (Pager, 5). Pager has a good point; employers need to stop classifying criminals as bad subjects, ex-convicts are not even being considered for the position for which he or she is applying.

Employers must realize that their efforts to keep their workplace rid of criminals supposedly for the safety of other employees; they are contributing to recidivism. Thus, putting more people in danger that are outside of the employer’s place of safety, if the ex-criminal should choose to return to crime. The consequences look like this, “ex-offenders one year after release reveals a rocky path of reintegration, with rates of jobless-ness in excess of 75 percent and rates of rearrests close to 45 percent” (Pager, 5).

These results of ex-convicts being rearrested from being jobless is a negative impact on reducing recidivism, because of the stigma that most employers have on criminals. Should the ex-criminal applicants decide to drop out of the workforce altogether to break free of the disappointing interviews? Do they have to lower their standard for the expectations for success and just accept it? No. The difference here is that someone who has been previously incarcerated should not have to adapt to the inequalities that employers have for them.

They need to stay focused and attentive to the possibility to do better for themselves and others. Ex-prisoners need the opportunities just as you and I do who didn’t commit crimes. If an employer were to be restricted to criminal background checks, this would then be resolved. There is one factor that contradicts this, “employers bear the costs of theft and violence in the workplace, as well as the more mundane problems of unreliable staff and employee turnover” (pager, 26). This is a risk indeed, yet the most ideal thing an employer needs to do is still consider the ex-convict for the position.

If qualified and the severity of the criminal background check does not seem to be in any relevance to the business or company, then they should hire and put them on a probation period for evaluation. A good factor for an ex-convict to gain employment is by having a very good education whether received before or during incarceration. There are programs that have been implemented in some institutions throughout the country to educate and prepare its inhabitants to cope for re-entry when released. Although some prisoners may be illiterate yet that doesn’t mean they can’t start from the bottom up.

Due to the fact that certain prisoners may have to do many years of prison time, this allows him or her to reach higher goals of education while incarcerated. Some critical perspectives I found a statement on prison education are such as this, “To us, talking about education means talking about the chance to acquire an intellectual and practical formation that increases understanding and decreases alienation from things, from reality and from life. A step toward a liberated spirit” (Davidson, 13).

This perspective shows that the implementation of schooling and higher learning is the best plan to educate and best serve the inmates which are in prison. The best way to reduce recidivism and to prepare convicts for transitioning for re-entry is better than just letting the judicial system work on its own. We have a rising number of inmates being imprisoned and is growing. The United States currently leads the world in incarceration rates, with more than 2. 26 million adults confined in prisons and jails (Carter, Gibel, Giguere, & Stroker, 2007; Glaze, 2011).

In addition to these incarceration figures, nearly 5 million criminal offenders are under some form of community corrections supervision in America (Glaze, 2011). About 500,000 of the 650,000 inmates released from prison each year are placed on parole, while the rest of the 5 million offenders who are under community supervision are serving sentences of probation. In combination with the 2 million-plus offenders who are incarcerated, the 7 million adults who form the total U. S. correctional population represent a tripling of the size of this group since 1980 (Carter et al. , 2007).

If by means of education is a remedy for this, then it should be implemented. The cost of these programs is about 12 million per year (O’Brian). In the field of corrections, the average cost to incarcerate an adult offender is nearly $24,000 and for juveniles it is $43,000 (Carter et al. , 2007). If higher education was more available to teach prisoners to have vocational as well as intellectual skills it will benefit the community from which they will return, it will reduce recidivism, and it will reduce the amount of prisons throughout the country. It cost about 52 million dollars to build every new prison (Levra).

All of us as tax payers need to pay for each individual inmate to be housed. It would be beneficial to better spend our hard earned tax dollars on an education, and think that it will benefit them and the better the community. There is considerable debate over the effectiveness of corrections and reentry programs. Some have concluded that several types of programs are effective, while others have cast doubt on the ability of these programs to reduce recidivism. Prisoner reentry programs operated by secular and faith-based organizations offer a wide range of services.

However, there are not enough scientifically rigorous evaluations of secular and faith-based prisoner reentry programs to make generalizations about the overall effectiveness of these programs (Muhlhausen). This is an opposition but what I have found is that the time from release for each offender is between four and 22 months, with an average of about 14 months. The analysis shows that offenders who participated in the Offender Reentry Program had a 33% drop in recidivism as measured by re-arrest compared to offenders who did not participate in the program.

Participants in the program also show a 27% drop in recidivism as measured by overall charges and a 33% drop in recidivism as measured by felony charges. This preliminary evaluation shows that the Offender Reentry Program is effective at reducing recidivism (Officer, Bajpai, Wilson, 2008). Policymakers on the national, state, and local levels need to be concerned about prisoner reentry. To address the issue of offender recidivism, the federal government should operate reentry programs for offenders incarcerated in the federal correctional system.

Works Cited

Carter, M. M. (2010). Engaging in collaborative partnerships to support reentry. Silver Spring, MD: Cepp. Carter, M. M. , Gibel, S. , Giguere, R. , & Stroker, R. (2007). Increasing public safety through successful reentry: Evidence-based and emerging practices in corrections. Silver Spring, MD: Cepp. Davidson, Howard. Schooling in a total institution. CT: Blcipdia. 2005. Print Glaze, L. E. (2011). Correctional population in the United States, 2010. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Levra, Margaret. Prison officials say program cuts recidivism. The Daily Globe 08, March 2006: 2, 3. Print Muhlhausen, David. B. The second chance act: More evaluations of effectiveness needed. 010. Print O’Brian, Patricia. Making it in the Free World. New York: Suonyp, 2001. Print Officer, Kelly. , Bajpai, Devarshi. , Wilson, Micheal, State of Oregon: Criminal Justice Commision. 2008. Print Pager, Devah. Marked: race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. Chicago: Tuocp, 2007. Print Working Bibliography Levra, Margaret. “Prison officials say program cuts recidivism”. The Daily Globe, Page 3, 08, March 2006 This article I found through a database is about a program which was introduced and tested to evaluate the reduction of recidivism in the state of Michigan.

Money was put into a program called the “Michigan prisoner re-entry initiative”. This programs cost is 12 million a year and, the results were astonishing. Martin, Lori Latrice. “Debt to Society: Asset Poverty and Prisoner Reentry. ” Review of Black Political Economy 38 (2011): 58 pars. Web. 15 October. 2012. http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=4d1fc0b6-d3fb-4f40-8bf8-627b003f5d10%40sessionmgr14&vid=2&hid=17. This peer reviewed journal I found is about the importance to education programs that need to be available to ex-prisoners for reentry.

Prisoner reentry programs should include an emphasis on financial education in addition to an emphasis on employment as a means of reducing recidivism rates. Muhlhausen, David. B. The second chance act: More evaluations of effectiveness needed. 2010. Print New York Times News Service. “Texas Prison Experiment Cuts Return Rate of Inmates”. Wisconsin State Journal, Page 6, Section 2. 8, September 1970. This newspaper article is a good source for my paper because it gives a straight result from programs that were implemented for ex-prisoners in educational programs. This then gave the result of reduced recidivism. O’Brian, Patricia. Making it in the free world. ” State University of New York Press. 2001. Chapter 2 “Establishing Home. ” Zhul Library HV 9304. 0145 2001 This book I found is to give me more insight as to how ex-prisoners feel personally through their experience to the transition from prison back into the community.

This gives first-person review to provide useful suggestions for the problem of recidivism. Officer, Kelly. , Bajpai, Devarshi. , Wilson, Micheal, State of Oregon: Criminal Justice Commision. 2008. Print Pager, Devah. “Marked: race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. ” The University of Chicago Press. 007. Chapter 3 “Measuring the Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration. ” Zhul Library HV 9304. P23 2007 This book I found gives detailed research and experiments to employer’s reaction to applicants which have criminal records. This gives a view into the social stigma that is in affect throughout the workforce upon ex-prisoners. Piazza, Elizabeth. “Changing the big house”. The Daily Times, Page 1, 14, October 2009 This newspaper article is a moderately good source because it gives the difference between a prison and jail. The prison is long term therefore allows education programs within the facility to work well.

Jails on the other hand does not hold its inmates long enough for education programs to function properly. Zamble, Edward, and Vernon L. Quinsey. “The Criminal Recidivism Process. ” Cambridge University Press. 1997. Chapter 4 “Comparisons with Non Recidivists. ” Zhul Library HV 6049. Z36 1997 This book I found gives a follow up to case studies of recidivists and non-recidivists. It gives charts and percentages as to how many obtain jobs and keeps them. These charts actually could argue my point that even with work recidivists still do crime and don’t contribute to the community.

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