I believe society views my post-prison quality of life as a topic so foreign and insignificant that it barely warrants a thought, much less a discussion. In society’s collective consciousness an ex-con should be content with a meager salary, even though that salary doesn’t afford him the luxury of being able to pay his rent. And in society’s collective consciousness, an ex-con should refrain from feeling negatively about his position of employment, no matter how degrading it may be because, after all, “it’s better than being in prison.” When an ex-con is denied a position because of his background, as discriminatory as that may sound, society will frequently view it as “understandable,” then immediately turn around and denounce discrimination as evil and intolerable, but I get it, that’s only when the victim is someone other than an ex-con. I guess I’m supposed to be content with the scraps thrown in my direction because, let’s face it, an ex-con should know that he deserves nothing, not one penny, much less a high-paying job. He must learn to subsist on crumbs that fall from higher up. It’s a nationally accepted truth. I wish there were people willing to protest for us, who would march for us and with us. I wish people would recognize that a fight for better educational opportunities for prisoners is a fight for a better America.

7 thoughts on “A Lack of Post-Prison Job Opportunities

  1. Great point. Great post. I agree: the prison industrial complex impacts more than just those who are behind bars. Having a criminal record creates a subclass of individuals where it becomes legal to discriminate against them. Incarceration is a tool to depress workers’ wages. Corporations are sending jobs overseas, but they are also sending jobs to the prisons. Excellent point: the movement for higher wages should center prisoners. I look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember hearing, “After he’s paid his debt to society…” and, “He’s paid his debt to society,” on TV shows that were popular when I was a little kid. I understood that meant people who got out of prison after serving their time got a fresh start. Tabula rasa. That made sense to me. I mean, how fair would it be if my parents punished me forever for doing one thing wrong? Or punished me severely for some minor infraction? Not at all. You find out what your fitting punishment is, and you get through it. Then it’s over. I grew up believing that was justice.

    I still believe that’s what justice is.

    Yeah, I know life isn’t “fair”. But I also know people and societies can choose to treat people fairly. Of course, that supposes people learn from their mistakes and don’t repeat them. I understand it may be difficult to trust the judgment of someone who has done something they should have known not to do, and I suspect that lack of trust underlies discrimination against ex-cons. It sure underlies a parent’s willingness to trust their offspring’s future behavior after they’ve shown remarkably poor judgment. The former wrong-doer has to earn that trust back.

    But parents — and society — have to be willing to give the former wrong-doer the chance to show they deserve to be trusted again. I think that means we have a responsibility to create an environment that supports trustworthiness. I believe education is the fundamental building block — not only education for the ex-offender, but education for employers and society in general about our responsibility. Then we need to provide opportunities to prove trustworthiness — like jobs with decent living wages.

    I don’t know if marches alone are the most effective way to achieve those goals, although, certainly we have to raise consciousness of the problems and solutions. Lobbying for effective legislation, both against discrimination against ex-cons and for prison programs that serve those goals, is important.

    Because, as you point out, we already know the alternative doesn’t usually end well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    I agree when you write that “it’s difficult to trust the judgement of someone who has done something they should have known not to do,” but I think we all fit that description, not just ex-cons. Every living being is “someone who has done SOMETHING they should have known not to do.” I don’t have to witness it to know this. So, are we distrustful of everyone we meet? No. We are distrustful of ex-cons because it’s socially acceptable to do so. A “lack of trust” might be the popular and accepted “reason” for discrimination against ex-cons, but is that all of it? When we talk about what’s socially acceptable, or reasons for discrimination, or the plight of the ex-con, those are trees with many branches.

    I do agree with everything you said but felt I had to point out the fact that every person is “someone who has done something.” Thanks again for reading. God bless.

    Like

  4. I’m fascinated with your posts. I never met or talked to an ex-con. I recently came across an entity that works towards restorative justice, and learn a lot about the situation of prisoners in your country. The work they do, touched me and opened my mind to the reality of prisoners.
    Not easy situation and perhaps not better nor worse than in most countries.
    The way society looks at it, I guess, might not differ anywhere.
    It’s all about punishment and no forgiveness. Hence, the attitudes you mentioned become deeply ingrained in people’s psyche making everyone look with indifference to the lack of job opportunities.
    Maybe it’s also fear that motivates them.
    You are right though. It’s not right and not fair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an unfortunate reality that ex-cons don’t get much of a second chance. I think you’re partly right when you say that it may be “fear” that influences people to respond to ex-cons in a specific way.
      The U.S. has more prisoners than any other country on earth. The prison industry here generates billions of dollars annually. So, there really isn’t much of an effort to reduce the prison population. Doing that would reduce the amount of money made in the prison industry.
      I’m honored that you’ve taken an interest in my posts.

      Like

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