With the mass media attempting to spread hype about an additional 1% release of prisoners, I thought it was rather timely for John Oliver to speak some truth into the subject.
Definition of RECIDIVISM
: a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially : relapse into criminal behavior
I don’t know about you guys, but if I were to be held accountable and labeled for even one of the foolish things I did during my teenage and young adult years it would be a guarantee that people and society would pass some form of negative judgment towards me.
Fortunately for myself I was raised in a home of the ‘right’ side of the tracks and was provided with several means to steer me back on track when I made a boo boo from time to time. Theses errors in judgment were quickly wrapped up to as a learning experience with little to no consequences.
Now for people who were brought up in homes a little bit less foruntate than me you could easily see how these same type of ‘learning experiences’ could catch up with you quickly and be viewed as deserving of punishment through the eyes of the law. If you didn’t have educated parents who were well versed in the laws and our rights, and had the means to protect you with the help of an attorney if things got really bad, you can easily be thrown through the ringer as another statistic in the criminal in-justice system. As my father always told me, “we are all created equal, but some are more equal than others”.
Say you were convicted and were sentenced to even a small stint in jail for an indiscretion that millions of us partake in, your chances of returning back to society as a contributing member are slim to none. The government spends over $80 billion dollars annually on incarceration, with a failure rate of 50-75% when it comes to prisoner recidivism. It’s hard not to think of the jails as businesses with those type of statistics. It would go against simple business principles of supply and demand if customers(prisoners) actually were given a chance to change their consumption rates(engagement in criminal activity) and return to society as a contributing member. To make for a business model that is even more fullproof the jails pay powerful lobbyists to pressure local officials into passing restrictive laws that make sure their customer base stays healthy year after year, and it works damn well!
Some of the more brilliant moves that the government has put in place to help ease ex-cons back into society are as follows:
- Giving prisoners no money, no transporation, and no housing when they are released.
- Having people sign tenancy agreements that ban their family members from staying with them if they are ex-cons.
- Not allowing them to vote
- Not allowing them to get a drivers licenses.
- Banning people with felonies from accessing food stamps.
- Making it very challenging to get jobs, let alone an interview due to their record.
- Parole officiers not allowing for meeting times to be outside of the 9-5 hours if the ex-con even actually lands a job.
- Ex-cons having to pay for processing fees to even enter into a parole program.
These restrictive guidelines are not universally held in every state. but you get the picture. It’s damn hard for these people to not to return to old behavoir patterns when they feel they care caught between a rock and hard place to even put food in their belly and a roof over the head.
If you have 20 minutes to learn more about the antics that is the American in-justice system I suggest watching this John Oliver clip below. I would be amazed to hear that even the most republican readers out there didn’t soften their views even slightly.