Recidivism

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Matthew Sanchez
English 111, M17
11/15/2012
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. 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...
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