States enacted laws aimed at reducing barriers faced by people with criminal records in the workplace and elsewhere, says the Collateral Consequences Resource Center. Most measures involved restrictions on public access to records or limits on employer inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history.
A New York City nonprofit launched by an entrepreneur who spent time behind bars is teaching the formerly incarcerated to become personal trainers—and at the same time puncturing stereotypes that have limited employment opportunities for the millions of Americans with criminal records.
Corrections authorities believe encouraging “family-friendly” events inside penal institutions will motivate prisoners to change their behavior when they are released. But this is wishful thinking unless there’s better social support for reentry, writes an inmate at a Washington State penitentiary.
“If we didn’t exist, no one would invent us,” says former New York Commissioner of Probation Vincent Schiraldi. Speaking this week at the Smart on Crime conference at John Jay College, he said the punitive approach taken by probation and parole agencies made them major drivers of mass incarceration.
Many states are making it possible for individuals released from prison to find decent jobs, but more work needs to be done to give them a “fair chance” at turning the skills they learned behind bars into employment opportunities, the Smart on Crime forum was told Tuesday.
Safe and affordable housing for formerly incarcerated individuals is essential to breaking the cycle of homelessness and recidivism that prevents them from rebuilding their lives as productive citizens, according to a report released Tuesday by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College.
A program launched this year by the Illinois Department of Corrections transfers inmates with less than four years remaining on their sentence to a facility that provides life-skills training and job counseling. The sense of hope among participants is hard to miss, says a reporter who attended a recent “Day with Dad” weekend at the Kewanee Re-Entry Center.
“This is very, very dangerous,” said Daniel Payne of the Defense Security Service. Some 100,000 people hold interim clearances while working for companies with Defense Department contracts or at 13,000 cleared facilities and plants around the U.S.
Most prisoners on the verge of release focus on how to get back on their feet. But finding ways to contribute to the community matters much more—and ensures that they will never return to prison, writes a Washington State inmate as he awaits the outcome of his parole hearing.