Check out this video, in which a man named Vincent, who has a criminal conviction 25 years old and still can’t find work because of it, talks about his experiences:
In the accompanying article for RaceWire, Seth Wessler writes:
The White House has appropriately put creating and saving jobs at the center of the stimulus plan. But for people with criminal records, the prospects of inclusion in the national recovery are dismal. It’s not enough to create a job when a quick criminal background check will result in so many people losing it or not getting it at all. Those with prior convictions will be excluded from the game before the starting whistle sounds.
Communities of color experience higher rates of joblessness. This is due in part to the damning mix of the stigma of having a criminal record, the assumption that ex-prisoners can never redeem themselves, the ensuing ban on public employment for people with felony convictions and the practice of employers doing background checks.
According to Princeton sociologist Devah Pager, joblessness among former prisoners after a year is somewhere around 75 percent — three times the level among the same population before incarceration. The trend toward never-ending punishment, even after people have served their time, infects communities of color, especially Black people, with particular venom.
It’s important food for thought. And it also brings up the issue of the revolving door that our prison system, or prison industrial complex, has become. It seems that a big part of the reason why many people re-offend is because of a lack of other options, due to both limited education and limited job opportunities. In many case, they either must commit more crimes to survive, or re-offend because they have nothing to lose, anyway. So we’re talking about a whole lot of issues rolled into one here: economic justice, racial justice, and safety within communities.
Read the full article here. Clearly, something needs to change.
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