When the American prison system began, it was believed that rehabilitation, the act of restoring one’s character, could be beneficial for criminals to start over. According to Tom Wicker, “The system…began as a reform impulse, the idea that if offenders were isolated, shielded from the public mockery that had accompanied hangings and the stocks, given time to repent, and worked hard, they could be turned away from crime and transformed into useful citizens” (xii). Criminals could become better citizens and have a positive outlook for a future if they worked hard and were secluded from the outside world. Although this idea seems more humane, it did not last long in the prison system because many people believed that any crime committed deserved
I have to agree with Alexander (2012) that being labeled a felon condemned individuals to second-class citizenship perpetuate the cycle of criminal behavior. I have seen firsthand individuals being released from prison as a felon back into society and how Jim Crow practices outcast them from society. For example, newly released individuals from prison are indeed released with a financial debt owed to the Criminal Justice System. Many of the individuals often have to pay restitution to victims, court costs/attorney fees, and fees owed to the Probation department. Individual parolees are required to pay money to their probation officers every visit and some parolees may be required to visit their probation officer every month.
In March 2008, U.S Congress passed the Second Chance Act. It was passed to reduce the number of people returned to jail after parole release, not because of a crime committed, but because of small violations or other reasons. It was put in place to help the paroles live a better life. It also put in place new services and programs to help paroles get their life in order. Programs like Reentry courts, Educating and Training people for jobs while they are in prison, mentoring programs to adults and teens getting out of jail, drug treatment, alternatives to jail time and other programs to ensure that people who are in the system get a ‘second chance’ in life.
While "tough on crime" policies may be effective in incapacitating offenders, little consideration has been given to the impact this mass incarceration effort has had on offenders following their release from prison. Every year more than 600,000 people are released from jails and prisons to face the challenge of re-entering society in a productive capacity (Geiger, 2006; Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). Due to the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, reintegration is often met with a host of daunting and unnecessary barriers. Black Americans comprise a major segment of the neglected population and when they are released from prison the barriers to reintegration are often compounded by the stigma of their racial classification and the mark of a criminal
Convicted Felons and the Labeling Theory Paige Leary November 30, 2015 Criminology Delinquent, criminal, felon, all are labels that society give people who have been convicted of crime and therefore believed to have no respect for the law. Once an individual has been associated as someone who has no respect for the law they are often ostracized from their social groups. When a criminal has been denied by their friend groups they often begin to associate with people who are “like” them meaning that they are now associated with people who also engage in deviant behavior (Forensic Psych). All of the delinquent behavior that occurs after they have been ostracized from their original social group has been often the cause of them being
It can be difficult for past criminals to survive and make a living once they are out of jail (Alexander 2011). One of the first things a person is faced with is the amount of debt they have accrued while in jail. For example, current or former inmates are required to pay any program fees, restitution, child support, and any other fees in order to regain licenses or voting rights (Alexander 2011; Lobuglio and Piehl 2015). They are also forced to check the box indicating to employers that they have been convicted of a felony, making the application process stops there, regardless of what crime the person committed (Alexander 2011; Lobuglio and Piehl 2015). As if those set backs are not enough, former inmates are usually denied any government assistance including food stamps or government housing, forcing felons to stay with family members or desperately try to find somewhere they are allowed (Alexander 2011).
The current system that incarcerates people over and over is unsustainable and does not lower the crime rate nor encourage prisoner reformation. When non-violent, first time offenders are incarcerated alongside violent repeat offenders, their chance of recidivating can be drastically altered by their experience in prison. Alternative sentencing for non-violent drug offenders could alleviate this problem, but many current laws hinder many possible solutions. Recently lawmakers have made attempts to lower the recidivism rates in America, for example the Second Chance Act helps aid prisoners returning into society after incarceration. The act allows states to appropriate money to communities to help provide services such as education, drug treatment programs, mental health programs, job corps services, and others to aid in offenders returning to society after incarceration (Conyers, 2013).
They say it is hard to get good paying jobs when a person is convicted of a felony. There are many alternate routes to take to become successful. Mistakes happen in life and if the person is willing to work hard then anything is possible. Felons can start up a company in order to become successful. They don't always have to work under someone.
The best way to reintegrate offenders into society is to ensure that each offender has at minimum a high school GED, and a trade that he or she can use to become a functional member of society. At Coffield we offer a number of programs that will help offenders become better members of society after they are released from prison. The biggest program we have is the education department which contains class and testing for the GED program, trade schooling such as welding, horticulture, auto mechanics and college courses provided by Trinity Valley Community College. I have met several inmates that have decided to leave the gang life behind them and better themselves in order to make something out of their lives other than being a criminal the rest of their live and these men have earned a college degree. As a correctional officer, it is a good feeling to look back on an inmate’s life and for him to tell you where he went wrong and for him to take steps in his life to change his future so he isn’t just another
They have more opportunities because they have not been locked in a cell for a number of years. Instead in restorative justice the offender is required to do things like community service and communicating with the victim of their crime. Giving offenders more options after they have committed a crime can help them get back on their feet because they would have a better chance of getting a job. They would have a better chance of getting a job because they wouldn’t be out of a job as long as if they were in jail for years. Also hopefully by the offender not spending years in jail and doing things like community service they learn their lesson and will be less likely to commit another crime in the future compared to someone who spent years in jail.
Many drug offenders are often forced into the drug business because of economic reasons, resulting from the increased difficulty of finding jobs after prison, due to the felony that is attached to their name. Employers are often discouraged from hiring a person that has committed a felony, because of the uncertainty in their behavior. A study done by the Urban Institute, found that only 45% of all Americans that had been to prison, had a job within a year of being released. It was even lower for drug offenders, as only 25% of all drug offenders in the United States were able to find a job once released (McVay). It’s hard enough finding a well paying job because of the current state of the economy in the United States.
When people get out of prison they are afraid of going back. They don't have a reason to change. Most people don't have a way of even getting a job once there out as stated here, ”I work in a medium security prison in North Carolina that serves young men ages 18 to 25. There is one segment of our population that no program addresses. This is the group that will probably never be able to get a GED, and therefore they do not qualify for many of the programs designed to help with job