Reducing recidivism, having a felony record, and second chances.

We can all agree that leaving prison with a “felony” on their record disqualifies offenders from most jobs in our current workforce.

The word Felony

The remaining, albeit significant challenge, is a political one; that being the removal of the word ‘felony’ (in certain cases) from a defendant’s record.

This is because the word ‘felony’ which appears either;

(1) on most job applications or

(2) part of companies yearly background check

(3) may prohibit the offender from reentering the job market.

Recidivism

Currently, there is no attempt to reduce recidivism through the PSR. This could be accomplished by recommending placement to a facility that would match with the defendant’s interest in either higher education (college) or learning a specific occupation or trade. All of this in an effort to interrupt the ‘revolving door’ re-incarceration paradigm, thus reducing recidivism.

The remaining, albeit significant challenge, is a political one; that being the removal of the word ‘felony’ (in certain cases) from a defendant’s record. This is because the word ‘felony’ which appears on most job applications prohibits the offender from reentering the job pool before they ever get the opportunity to appear for an interview.

The existing disclosure requirement that appears on most employment applications inhibiting those affected from moving forward with their lives, thus contributing to the recidivism paradigm. Further once employed, some companies are ever more frequently obtaining background checks creating another obstacle to reducing recidivism.

While slowly changing, our society’s current reality is that once released, these felons are still facing this challenge every day. Instead, it should be considered that once someone has paid for their crime, they are given a second chance. How states are working to reduce recidivism among ex-offenders.

Some states have removed barriers for ex-offenders, but in federal cases nationwide these challenges still exist.

Utah was one of at least three states that enacted legislation this year making it easier to expunge a criminal record.

States also moved to make it easier for ex-offenders to get professional licenses and to limit the penalties ex-offenders and others face for not paying court fines and fees.

A positive example of breaking the recidivism paradigm:

 The Last Mile. Briefly; at San Quentin State Prison where they started a program that is preparing “incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training”.

 

Understanding the Federal Sentencing Guidelines – for general information only.

Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/@lanophotography