The Pros of Employment for Ex-Cons
In the last thirty years the crime rate in the United States has decreased, but the number of people incarcerated has increased because longer minimum sentences and stricter requirements for parole have been established. Offenders serve longer prison sentences that lead to a variety of employment-related barriers to overcome after release (Bracey 253). In the State of Nebraska, ex-offenders find little help when searching for employment. On the Department of Correction’s website, the mission statement reads,
The mission of the Department of Correctional Services is to serve and protect the public by providing control, humane care, and program opportunities for those individuals placed in its custody and supervision, thereby facilitating their return to society as responsible persons (“Nebraska” par 1).
Yet, ex-offenders in Nebraska are not able to find jobs once they are returned to society, Even though having a job is a necessary part of becoming a responsible citizen. The Nebraska Department of Corrections should make a more focused effort to help offenders find long standing employment upon release from prison.
Employment is an important factor for ex-offenders (Rakis 7). They need a stable job to provide income, housing, and basic needs. If an ex-offender has a family to support, that income becomes even more crucial (Pannkuk). Ex-offenders need jobs that are secure, with a reasonable amount of wages and benefits. With the current state of the economy, it is not feasible to live on minimum wage, especially if trying to support a family (Pannkuk). Having a secure job will also help smooth the transition from prison to normal life. Ex-offenders with employment have lower recidivism rates than ex-offenders with no income (Agan-Mencl). Recidivism is the chronic tendency toward repetition of a criminal behavior (“Recidivism” 1). Employment, or lack there-of, is said to be one of the top two factors in recidivism (Agan-Mencl; Pannkuk). Recidivism has become a nationwide problem, and many are looking for ways to reduce its rate (Bracey 253).
Ex-offenders have a hard time finding long-standing, good paying employment because of the barriers they face. One of those barriers is a lack of skills needed to gain employment (Holzer, Raphael, and Stoll 4-5). Many offenders are both undereducated and unemployed when they enter prison, and while in prison, often fail to gain adequate education or skills because there are no resources offered to acquire these skills (Smith). Also, employers fear hiring ex-offenders because of their criminal past. John Rakis, who wrote, “Improving the Employment Rates of Ex-Prisoners Under Parole,” says many employers have a “prejudice,” against hiring an ex-offender (Rakis 8). Along with employers being wary of a criminal past, ex-offenders also have large gaps in their employment history, as a result of the time served in prison. These gaps cause ex-offenders to appear as undependable...