Larquonelius Roberts, released from prison almost two years ago, is still living with his mother and struggling to find respectable employment, the Houston Chronicle says. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not this hard,” said Roberts, 23, who served a 7 1/2 -year sentence for aggravated assault. “I’m going on being out two years now, but I still don’t have a real job. I just need a job. I’m just asking for one shot.” Roberts is facing obstacles that are typical for most ex-convicts, who leave one struggle behind as they walk out of prison, only to find a new one awaiting them.
For Texas prison inmates returning to the Houston area, a recent study indicates the struggle may be even harder, with many of them emotionally unprepared for the challenges they face. Researchers for the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute interviewed 676 inmates shortly before their release from prisons and state jails and found most thought it would be “easy” to support themselves, renew family relationships, and stay out of trouble. The reality that awaits ex-convicts is much harsher. Many find that prospective employers are reluctant to give people with felony records a chance to prove themselves, and finding rental properties that will allow felons to sign a lease can be even tougher. Family members long separated from them by steel bars may not be willing to reconnect. “I really do believe they have every hope and every intent of making it this time,” said the Urban Institute’s Nancy La Vigne. “The disconnect comes after release, when they have no support system.”