It’s common knowledge that prisons are like business schools, in that the longer someone spends there, the better criminals they are likely to become. Like business schools, prisons actually encourage criminality rather than deter it. With most correctional facilities pay lip service to any idea of rehabilitation for inmates, what they actually end up doing is spending a good part of every day with experts in a broad field of criminal pursuits. And, like business schools, prison actually encourages criminality. Just as students learn to regard Milton Friedman’s statement that ‘the one and only responsibility of business is to increase its profits’ as a mantra, without the caveat he attached about it staying within the law, petty criminals starting their first semester in penitentiary institutions learn that crime is the smart way of life, and they’re here because they got caught and need to learn how not to get caught next time.
Various figures, including those from the Bureau of Justice, put recidivism rates at between 50% and 90% for different types of violent offenders. While these figures suggest that they don’t necessarily learn how to avoid being caught for their crimes, they most certainly are not deterred from committing them. The recidivism rates for non-violent crimes is even higher.
These figures should not be as surprising as they are. Prison, being what it is, can turn a genuinely innocent prisoner who has been falsely convicted, into a murdering felon, simply as a result of his need to stay alive and adhere to the code of the prisoners. Being around criminals every day for years, with no chance to learn new skills or to atone for crimes committed, is no way to prepare a prisoner for life on the outside.
Released prisoners are often penniless and desperate. They are shunned by the population at large and may not even have any friends or family to turn to. Their chances of finding employment are very limited. What choice do they have but to return to a life of crime?
Sometimes community groups and charities will give a chance to former prisoners. There is always a risk, of course, with such projects, but they improve the odds of the ex-prisoner staying on the straight and narrow. With such groups they can often find a chance to earn some money and secure a bed to sleep on.
What ex-prisoners need from this point is the chance to develop skills which will help them improve their lives and to avoid any connection with their criminal or convict lives. Typical success stories are the ones in which the prisoner relocates far from their hometown and finds work. Construction companies regularly employ ex-convicts due to a shortage of people with clean records applying for those jobs. The work can be hard and the hours long, but there is a chance to make friends, earn money and develop new skills. Good employees are given the opportunity to learn new skills, mixing cement, a CDL license and so on.
Furthermore, with a little money saved up and a steady income, ex-prisoners can work on developing other skills in their free time which will eventually give them an income, a business and the best chance at a bright future. Simply investing in tools from somewhere like http://www.straightkerfs.com/, or taking weekend classes to be a plumber or an electrician can give them the kind of chance that society and the penal system long denied them.
If you are an ex-prisoner and you’re still trying to get on your feet, you’ll need to be stronger now, mentally, than you’ve ever been. You need to be prepared, smart, polite, honest and, most of all, determined, even though you don’t have much money and you’re trying hard. Ask everyone you can for work. Be honest about what landed you in prison. 99% of people will not be able to help you and some may treat you without respect. You just have to carry on through it like it never happened. Leave your contact details wherever you can. Not all people are hard-hearted, and you will eventually find someone who can help. Whatever the job is, take it. Remember it’s just the first rung back on the ladder. From here, the only way is up.