The modern correctional system has numerous negative aspects. In some cases, instead of correcting and helping convicts, it fosters their desire to commit crimes again and become recidivists. As a result, convicts have no opportunity to integrate into society after they leave prison. Thus, it increases recidivism and crime rates. Different methods should be used to help convicts become a part of society. Hiring ex-convicts is an effective and helpful method for people who want to live a normal life after being released from prison.
Before discussing the problems that ex-convicts may face while looking for a job, it is important to describe the correctional system of the U.S. Firstly, it is necessary to note that the U.S. holds the first place in incarceration rates. According to Schmidt et al. (2008), in 2007, there were about 751 prisoners for 100,000 residents, which is quite high (591). Apparently, it indicates that the correctional system in the U.S. is quite ineffective. Therefore instead of minimizing recidivism and preventing crimes, the correctional system is focused on punishing people by keeping them in prisons with bad conditions and with a criminal environment.
As a result, when a person leaves prison, he or she doesn’t know what to do because prison hasn’t contributed to the personal development of a convict. Instead, it led him to degradation. Of course, in some prisons, convicts are provided with free education, but in most prisons, they are negatively influenced by the criminal environment inside the prison. Moreover, according to different sources, about 2/3 of inmates are re-incarcerated within three years (Saldago, 3). This can be explained by the fact that it is difficult for ex-convicts to become reintegrated into society.
One of the most important factors directly related to recidivism is the ability of ex-convicts to find a job. When a person leaves prison, the first thing this person needs to do is to find a job. Apparently, most employers are biased toward ex-convicts because they don’t trust previously incarcerated people. As a result, ex-convicts can’t find a job and earn for living. The only option they have is to commit a crime to earn something. Therefore ex-convicts are negatively influenced by a social bias toward them. According to Davies (1996), if an ex-convict finds a job, then there is only 21.5% that he will be re-incarcerated. Those ex-convicts who can’t find a job have a 67.8% chance of becoming incarcerated again (398). Therefore, creating an effective program that would help ex-convicts to find a job can decrease recidivism rates three times. As a result, it would positively influence the economy of the U.S. because each year, billions are spent to keep an enormous amount of prisoners. Moreover, an ex-convict with a job would also pay taxes. Thus it is another fact that proves the importance of hiring ex-convicts.
Of course, it is also important to note that ex-convicts can do numerous jobs. Many jobs don’t need any education or special skills. Therefore ex-convicts can easily perform them. Undoubtedly, making an effective system of supervisors who would control and guide ex-convicts is important. Government stimulates companies to hire ex-convicts by providing them with certain benefits. For example, companies that hire ex-convicts can cut taxes to a certain extent. According to Arrigo (2014), “The ex-convict who doesn’t return to prison and is employed is an asset to society and a significant cost-saving for the taxpayer” (150).
All these facts and examples given above prove that ex-convicts should be given a second chance. Instead of just releasing them from prison and waiting until they commit another crime and get arrested again, the government should focus more on supporting such people. The aforementioned study described by Davies (1996) shows that it is possible to reduce recidivism by helping ex-convicts to find a job. Apparently, if 2/3 of ex-convicts return to prison, it means that government doesn’t provide enough help to such people. Therefore, more developed and effective governmental programs should be implemented to support and help ex-convicts. Some scholars even claim that it is necessary to make discrimination against ex-convicts illegal in hiring (Reiman et al., 218). Of course, this proposition is too radical because certain jobs require different skills and higher education, but in some cases, discrimination can be made illegal. If the job is not related to social responsibility, thus it is possible to stimulate employers to hire ex-convicts, either by making discrimination illegal or by providing certain incentives. Ex-convicts whose recidivism is prevented with the help of employment can become valuable members of society. Hence, there are no doubts that ex-convicts should be hired and helped by the government because the modern correctional system is quite ineffective. Instead of making people adapt to society after they are released from jail, it alienates them. Obviously, employment can provide a feeling of safety to ex-convicts as well as the ability to earn money in a legal way.
Arrigo, B.A. Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Ethics. SAGE Publications, 2014. Print.
Davies, G. Psychology, Law, and Criminal Justice: International Developments in Research and Practice. Walter de Gruyter, 1996. Print.
Reiman, J., P.J. Reiman, and P. Leighton. The Rich Get Richer, and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice. Taylor & Francis, 2015. Print.
Salgado, D.M., and University of Rhode Island. An Examination of Risk and Resiliency Factors in Predicting Recidivism Rates among Incarcerated Women. University of Rhode Island, 2007. Print.
Schmidt, S., M. Shelley, and B. Bardes. American Government and Politics Today 2009-2010 Edition. Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.