Niagara Gazette — This shouldn’t be an earth-shattering realization for employers. But, here in New York, more than 60 percent of ex-cons remain unemployed one year after their release because of the stigma associated with their backgrounds. Employers fail to see that former criminals come out of their pasts being better people and workforce ready.
Like our public school systems, our correctional systems should be looked at as more than just a cost burden, but also as an investment. That’s the whole point of the legal and penal systems in a civilized society. Our tax dollars help to educate convicts, teach them trades, introduce them to self-discipline, and reform their behaviors. It’s a mammoth undertaking of resources — the US prison system costs taxpayers $228 billion per year while the 2 million Americans discharged from probation annually have an individual cost of $4,000 for every year under watch.
It’s an investment that should be capitalized on, but, it’s obvious that the general consensus is “once a criminal always a criminal.”
Is that the way a just people should think? Judging by the outpouring of prayers whenever a natural disaster or act of terrorism strikes our nation, Americans are still a people defined by their Christianity.
The religion is based on redemption and the salvation of sinners, so why shouldn’t those principles be practiced at large, including in employment? People shouldn’t claim to live up to the standards of their religion yet absolve themselves of its founding tenets.
Likewise, as another teaching of Christianity goes — let he who is without sin cast the first stone. A lot of convicts and folks in the probation ranks were unlucky enough to get caught doing what so many other people do. Case in point: New Yorker’s arcane Rockefeller Laws imprison folks for years for having possessed drugs. How many people under the age of 70 can claim that they haven’t tried marijuana or don’t know anyone who has used/uses weed? There are very few for either category and those smokers were fortunate enough to not get busted for it. Similarly, how many thousands of customers leave neighborhood bars every day with a little too much alcohol in their systems and never get caught, let alone targeted?