Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

July 1, 2013

CONFER: Ex-cons can be a good investment

(Continued)

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?

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Bob Confer
  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: A constitutional convention is not the answer For the past few years it has been popular for folks of the right persuasion (Republicans and neoconservatives) to call for a constitutional convention ("Con-Con") in hopes of passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA.) A lot of people have jumped on that bandwagon; no doubt your email inbox or Facebook news feeds have shown that.

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  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: Health care vouchers would really help our veterans When sending off our men and women to fight for our defense or interests abroad where they face the barrel of a gun or travel along bomb-strewn roads as a course of their daily duties, it only makes sense that upon their return we give our warriors some sort of reward, since most of them are paid peanuts for the risks they take.

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  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Looking north to those living the Canadian dream Wikipedia defines the American Dream as "a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work."

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: America has a trucking crisis Because a Hollywood star was critically injured in an accident caused by a tractor trailer, the public conversation has turned to road safety and how big trucks fit into that equation. Never mind that beyond Tracy Morgan's high-profile crash there are 500,000 accidents with tractor trailers every year in which an average of 11 people die each day.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: Don't expand bear hunting in New York A couple of weeks ago some folks were lucky enough to see a black bear in the town of Pendleton. The news and social media were all abuzz over the sighting, just as they were in the summer of 2009 when a lone black bear stayed in the county for quite some time. Niagara County residents were then, as they are now, hoping to catch a glimpse of an awesome beast that is an infrequent visitor to our region.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Suffering from constitutional selectivity It's a real treat when our citizens come out in numbers and with passion in the defense of one of our rights, just as they did - and still do - with the NY-SAFE Act.

    May 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug new CONFER: Economic cannibalism: developers eat their own It's not often that you'll find me celebrating the loss of an economic development project that would have created 200 jobs in Western New York. But, I did just that a few weeks ago when a deal to bring a Toronto-based plastics manufacturer to the Buffalo waterfront fell through at the eleventh hour.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer mug 051214 CONFER: All of Niagara County should say 'no' to CWM expansion CWM Chemical Services maintains a 710-acre facility in the towns of Lewiston and Porter for the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous and industrial non-hazardous wastes. Wastes accepted at this facility are disposed of in an on-site landfill (known as RMU-1) or shipped to another facility for further processing and disposal.

    May 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug 050714 CONFER: Microbeads: An invisible danger to the environment Most people would think that because my livelihood is based in plastics I'd toe the industry line and wax poetic on the economic and social virtues of plastics of all sorts. This is not always the case.

    May 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Where are the volunteers? Have you ever wondered why it seems like you see the same people engaged in the efforts of numerous non-profits, churches, fire companies and youth organizations within your community? It's not an illusion. Those tireless souls really are involved in everything. They not only want to be, they have to be -- because no almost one else is giving up their time.

    April 29, 2014 1 Photo

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