- Between 600,000 and 700,000 inmates are released annually.
- Two-thirds of them will be re-arrested within three years after their release.
- More than half of all people leaving prison or on probation are unemployed.
Obviously, if 65-70% of those released are committing more crimes, the legal system is failing each and everyone 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.
As someone who has worked with integrating ex-offenders back into society, employment is the most important element of making some semblance of a transition back into society.
Ex-Offender Reentry / Ex-Offender Integration Programs
Typically, Federal money will be filtered to the states for the purpose of funding these types of programs. As an entrepreneur, and someone with a background of engaging & employing individuals with similar backgrounds, me looking for an opportunity to provide Professional Development and Job Development / Job Placement seemed to make sense.
After making some inquiries, I became part of a “team” in the Philadelphia area offering a full array of services.
My job was to create a strict curriculum to prepare these men and women for employment. I knew where to look for opportunities for them, how to market them, and how to coach them for each industry and each employer.
I think, deep inside, there’s a piece of us that want to contribute to our communities… and think this is a good way to do it.
Until we actually… umm… try doing it?
Working in the Staffing Industry was a simple model. You immediately disqualified and discarded individuals that would not add value to your clients.
But, not at the community level. This is what you got and you got to work with it. The fact that this person is 30 years old, has never worked a day in his life, and has no marketable skills is irrelevant, right?! And some… just do not want to work at all. They’re just doing what they’re told, sort of “going through the motions,” with no clear objective of working for a paycheck. On the other hand, there were those who really showed a strong desire to prepare their resumes, actively performed searches for open positions, and interviewed well.
One of the “liberal” concepts of thinking was that ex-offenders are “victims of society,” part of a system that is “harsh and unforgiving”, and doomed to remain in a vicious cycle that will see them involved in more serious crime. Do you think that’s true?
I think we all understand the merits of gainful employment: reconnecting with a normal life, much-needed experience and training, and reducing the opportunity to pursue falling back into old patterns. It’s just getting to that point which is the challenge. Especially, when certain employers target these individuals to take advantage of people in this situation… with fantasies of reduced labor costs and higher profit margins in mind.
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. According to one study, only 12.5% of employers say they would accept an applicant with a criminal record. Ex-offenders have to work extra hard to convince employers that they are dependable and committed and eager to learn on the job. To do so, ex-offenders need coaching on job search techniques specific to their needs and circumstances.
In the Philadelphia area alone, there are 300,000 ex-offenders.
How does recidivism affect you and your family? What can be done to offset this problem?
As a business owner, the personal safety of your employees should be of the utmost importance. Who really wants to be responsible for hiring a murderer? Would you?