Santina M Wood
Argosy University Online
When someone has been incarcerated for a felony in this country, the punishment continues even after release, so in order to help these individuals we should aide them in finding a respectable, and credible release program that will help them to reclaim not only government benefits, but to aide them qualify, and prepare for legitimate employment opportunities. This continued, disparaging treatment is not only painful to the individual, it also helps to perpetuate the cycle. Therefore, we as a society should want to help these individuals in finding a respectable, and credible release policy that will make it conceivable for themselves and their families to reclaim their lives, and gain back their self-respect.
According to Jonathon Blanks of the Washington Post ….. “When it comes to the rehabilitation of any previous offender, unfortunately, we as a society are failing miserably.” In the 1990s a series of laws were enacted, laws that make reentry by the offender into their communities, as well as gaining lawful employment extremely difficult. Some of these laws do have a solid foundation in public policy. For example, the 1993 Brady Law required background checks before the purchase of a firearm in order to prevent former violent felons from acquiring guns, yet the non-violent felon suffers the same fate. However, other laws came out of frustration, and to subject a non-violent felon a lifetime of prohibition on receiving Pell Grants, or public assistance has no public policy rationale beyond that of retribution. Denying a non-violent felon access to rehabilitation options, is wrong. Just as they attempt to re-enter society, we are throwing up roadblocks to keep them from taking those necessary steps to better themselves and instead we are setting them up to fail. In many cases, they reoffend in their effort to feed and house their families. America incarcerates more people than any other advanced nation in the world, and for us to write them all off as we do under our current laws essentially guarantees that they themselves, as well as their families will continue to perpetuate the current mobility crisis in our nation. Though Americans as a whole believe that everyone deserves a second chance, the truth of the matter is that after an individual has paid for his or her debt to society, successful re-entry to the “normal” life is difficult at best, and intangible for most. There are some that may argue that this is nothing to worry about, but the fact is, this is simply more punishment for an individual who, in their past had made bad choices. “The unfortunate reality is that barriers to re-entry significantly shape the probability for recidivism—which is approximately 70% in three years.”(Peters ilia 2005) Recidivism is a problem that affects all individuals and the communities they live in, and is a major contributor to the overall size of the prison population. Critical to the successful reintegration there are several central concerns. Two of those being stable housing, and employment. Felons who are attempting re-entry, especially those with drug felonies, are facing enormous barriers to securing both of these key elements. However, many of the released felons that were interviewed set up their own barriers to re-entry. One example was by not seeking treatment for an addiction, and although this may seem like a personal problem for the felon, the reasoning behind this issue does make sense, and it just aides in proving my point. Most of the barriers to re-entry are controlled by the government (e.g. bans on social welfare), and by the beliefs and preconceptions that employers, and housing rental agencies hold about those who have been to prison. Because of that, some felons feel as if the deck is already stacked, so why even try. They may see, and believe that their circumstance is hopeless. However interviews revealed