Barriers to Inmate Reentry Into Society

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Inmates often face a form of “double jeopardy” where after serving their sentence and release they are again “resentenced” when society turns them away. Reintegration barriers are one of the largest obstacles ex-offenders face, which raises the question: “when do you stop paying for a crime that was committed?” Some challenges recently released ex-offenders face are issues relating to family, lack of employment, and lack of assistance within the reentry process. Although large amounts of financial resources have been applied toward the expansion of prisons, very little has focused on the increasing problem of successful inmate reentry. It is estimated that 650,000 (representing approximately 97% of all U.S. inmates) are released annually. (Visher 1). According to one estimate, there are currently more than twelve million ex-felons in the United States, with roughly 9 percent being the male working–age population (Pager 2). During the reentry process, one of the primary steps is to locate and maintain employment. Employment not only is a condition of parole, but aids in the family’s financial stability while reducing the odds of recidivism. Former prisoners face an uphill battle because of their low level of education, limited work experience and job skills. Adding to their problems is the criminal record which follows them, sometimes prohibiting them from being hired, or obtaining certifications and licensures. General licensing statues state that a licensing board has the right to refuse to issue license or certificate and may suspended or revoked upon proof that a person has been convicted of a crime. Any drug related crime in some states carries a suspension of their driver’s license upon release from 6 -24 months. The law even fails to offer employment discrimination protection to ex-offenders where criminal records, obtained through an authorized background check, are a lawful tool barring employment. These types of positions...
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