Derrick G. Patrick
November 09, 2012
Dr. David Willis
Employment is the Key to reducing recidivism
Individuals returning from incarceration each year live in virtually every zip code in the country. Most ex-offenders have every intention of becoming productive, tax paying citizens, and no intention of returning to the penal system. However ex-offenders are largely on their own when returning to our communities. They are often estranged from families and friends, and are increasingly faced with tremendous challenges upon their release. Most are simply unprepared for the challenges they will encounter in the attempt to restore normalcy to their lives – finding a home, becoming employed, paying bills and reconciling family ties among others. With their lives in upheaval, many ex-offenders unfortunately feel compelled to return to their criminal behavior. Recidivism – the return of an ex-offender to prison – often occurs and the entire community pays for it, both financially and through sacrifice of personal security. The best way to prevent recidivism is to put ex-offenders to work. Each year there is a substantial large group that enters the workforce. extra group that enters the workforce. They’re not immigrants or our own teens coming of age, they are ex-offenders. “Between 600,000 and 700,000 inmates are released annually, two thirds of them will be rearrested within three years after their release,” (Anderson, D. 2008) considering the amount of money it takes to house an inmate in prison, the costs could be staggering. Over half of those that are released from prison or are currently on probation don’t have jobs. “Most professionals agree that reducing recidivism is the key to alleviating the stress on our overburdened correctional system. “(Anderson, D. 2008)” Given the high cost of crime and incarceration, almost any program that reduces recidivism will pass social benefit-cost tests.”( Freeman, R. 2003). “Obviously, if 65-70% of those released are committing more crimes, the legal system is failing each and every one of us. But, to solely point the focus on that “piece of the puzzle” would be unfair. We know correctional facilities are overburdened with inmate population at/above capacity.” (Source Blogger, 2011) “The potential impact on parole reform and the rest of the criminal justice system could be staggering. As an example, if the study finds that for $5,000 we can keep someone from returning to an approximate $40,000 a year bed in a prison, the cost savings to states could be substantial. Moreover, the reduction in crime and fighting parole violations would also be significant.”(America Works, 2009). In recently speaking with Judge Walter Rice, United States District Court Judge and co-chair on the Montgomery county re-entry program, he stated, “Once a person has paid his or her ‘debt to society’ he or she shouldn’t be judged on their past, but considered for who they are today and the potential that they have.” All that most ex-offenders want is a chance to be “normal” citizens. To earn their way, take care of their families, and stay free. “Unfortunately, finding a job—already a difficult process for many—is an even steeper uphill battle for ex-offenders. In addition to financial barriers, transportation issues, and mental and physical health concerns, ex-offenders face the stigma of their records, and employers often see them as too risky to hire.”(Anderson, D. 2008) Many ex-offenders get automatically discouraged when filling out job applications as soon as they see, “have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Of course, it does say that answering yes doesn’t automatically disqualify you from employment, many however disagree. According to a study done by sociologist Devah Pager in 2003 applicants with a prison record received significantly fewer callbacks than those without. According to another study, “only 12.5% of...