Ever heard the term ex-offender? You know what that is, right? Yes, that’s right. It’s anyone who has ever had a conviction of any type. The ex-offenders I want to discuss, though, are those who not only spent time in jails or prisons but used their time served to better themselves with personal growth programs that a lot of the at-large populace could utilize.
Thousands of men and women are released form correctional institutes across the nation daily. Many of those “ex-offenders” have taken the necessary steps to evolve into truly productive members of society. Some state by state estimates place the percentage of “rehabilitated” inmates as low as 3% while others claim a national average of over 20%.
These former or “ex-offenders” are re-entering a society that is now facing it’s highest unemployment rates in decades. Government programs to help these citizens with their re-entry have had massive budget cuts and in some cases been closed down. Jobs are hard to locate for those of us who have never had an infraction. Can any one of us imagine the hardships for the former offender? “Hardships?” Many people feel as though former offenders have no right to “help” or “special programs” in procuring employment and these reasoning’s are easy enough to understand. But, the question remains; shouldn’t we as a society of supposedly civilized peoples be reaching out to these swept aside individuals?
Would we as a nation want to see these former offenders fail? Would we have them to fall back into old behavior patterns and habits? What would be the thought process for a former offender who has done all within their power to better themselves only to be rejected for every job they qualify for solely on the grounds of their past mistakes? One would imagine that it would get pretty old pretty quick. “Why did I do so much to change? It doesn’t matter!”
There are a few state and local government sponsored programs available to help former offenders, but, we need more. The feds offer a tax break incentive for employers who hire “ex-offenders” within their first year after release, but most employers are unaware of the incentive Credit Programs . The men and women being released form our correctional institutes aren’t going away and they cannot be brushed aside any longer.
A fair and competitive job market should be just that, fair and competitive. Candidates should be filtered and hired based on the merits of past achievements and experience, proven productivity. Not cast to the wayside because of past mistakes. Employers need to open their eyes to the inert worth of these fellow citizens and offer them the same opportunity as afforded those who have no “record.”
Society is responsible for itself. That means we have a responsibility to every citizen. Not based on mistakes but rather on accomplishments and an earnest desire to “belong” to “be productive” to be “self supporting.” If we as a society continue to allow these people to be left behind how can our society survive?
As the gulf between the have and have not widens shouldn’t we be collectively working to save all of those we can from the chasm of hopelessness and disparity? This nation’s open and legal (?) discrimination against “ex-offenders” must be stopped. Contact your senator or congressman through these links, http://www.senate.gov/…/senators_cfm.cfm ,https://writerep.house.gov/…/welcome.shtml and demand that the laws allowing open discrimination against “ex-offenders” be repealed and laws enacted to assure a fair and competitive job market for all citizens.