For the first time in nearly a decade, the majority of court-supervised ex-offenders in Washington, D.C., are unemployed, the Washington Post reports. One ex-offender says that the bleak economy has forced ex-convicts, already at the margins of employment, to turn back to crime as a means of survival. The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), which oversees parole and probation in the capital, says that last year, 52 percent of court supervised ex-offenders were unemployed — more than 7,800 people. The number of out of work ex-offenders is up 10 percent since 2003 and 2 percent since 2007.
Isaac Fulwood Jr., chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission, said not having a job is akin to having a substance abuse problem or losing contact with a parole or probation officer. A former police chief, Fulwood said unemployment is one of several factors that can result in a parolee being tethered to a GPS tracking device as a deterrent to criminal behavior. Employment and recidivism are linked. Leonard Sipes, a spokesman for CSOSA, said a job is the best way to keep ex-offenders out of jail. “The number of unemployed ex-offenders certainly makes crime control more difficult,” Sipes said. “There is a substantial amount of research that indicates that there is a strong correlation between working and not going back to prison.”