The to acquiring a criminal record. To continue, after

The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. According to the United States Department of Justice, “over 10,000 ex-prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and arrive on the doorsteps of our nation’s communities”, resulting in more than 650,000 ex-offenders who are released from prison every year. Research and “studies show that approximately two-thirds will likely be rearrested within three years of release” (United States Department of Justice). The cause of ex-offenders turning to reoffending is they face an endless amount of challenges once they are released from prison. Serving their sentence was only one battle, but not many realize that reintegrating back into society is an entirely different battle. “A felony conviction has consequences that continue long after a sentence has been served and parole has ended” (Petersilia 105). The greatest repercussions ex-convicts face once they obtain a criminal record is stigma and the immediate loss of certain civil rights. Employment is one of the most important factors in terms of preventing re-offending, however, struggles arise with employment opportunities as they are greatly affected due to acquiring a criminal record. To continue, after being released from prison, one of the most crucial elements to a successful transition and reintegration back into a community is finding a job. There has been research to that shows there is a positive relationship between obtaining a steady form of employment and reducing the likelihood of reoffending and lowering the chance of  recidivism. In fact, “the higher the wage, the less likely it is that individuals will return to crime” (Visher). Failure to obtain a job, results in a higher chance of “facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place” (United States Department of Justice). Employment is extremely beneficial when it comes to reintegration because it “helps ex-prisoners be productive, take care of their families, develop valuable life skills, and strengthen their self-esteem and social connectedness” (Petersilia 112). Acquiring a job not only provides a steady income but it is also an “important part of becoming a productive member of the community and assists in developing personal responsibility and gaining independence and self-reliance” (Vishner). This allows recently released prisoners to rebuild their life and start over. When ex-offenders have less time on their hands, and an activity to keep them from being “bored”, they are less likely to get involved in criminal activity and fall back into old habits. Furthermore, finding employment post-prison is easier said than done. Most ex-convicts find great difficulty in possessing a job or even a steady job once they get released. There are significant barriers felons are faced with when it comes to employment. For starters, former inmates have very low education levels and little-to-no work experience. It was found that more than thirty percent of convicts were unemployed preceding their arrest. Although, “about two-thirds of prisoners report being employed prior to their incarceration”, but “their educational level, work experience, and skills are well below national averages for the general population, and the stigma associated with incarceration often makes it difficult for them to secure jobs” (Visher). With the time spent in prison, “many lose work skills and are given little opportunity to gain useful work experience” and it has been more challenging gaining work skills as ” the availability of job training programs in prison has declined in recent years” (Visher). Prisons aren’t providing the resources inmates need in order to succeed on the outside. In addition to, a significant amount of prisoners suffer from mental health illness and/or substance abuse. When inmates are being brought in with addictions and/or mental illness, and the system fails to rehabilitate, they are leaving prison with the same addictions and untreated mental health issues. Not to mention, inmates can develop mental disorders by being exposed to the environment of prison. Suffering from these conditions drastically reduces the chances of receiving or holding a job. Around “18-21 percent of prison inmates report having a mental or physical condition that limits their ability to work” (Petersilia 112). These circumstances can restrict employability, therefore increasing the chance of reincarceration.     Moreover, weakened bonds within the community means less opportunity options available to these individuals. Individuals living in poor and/or high crime neighborhoods, have “weak connections to stable employment opportunities and are relatively removed from centers of job growth” (Petersilia 113). The jobs available for former inmates involve “low pay, few benefits, and the lack of job advancement afforded by many jobs, many former prisoners choose illegal opportunities” (Solomon, Johnson, Travis & McBride 13). The neighborhoods that “receive large concentrations of released prisoners are already struggling with high rates of unemployment and poverty and a dearth of available jobs” (Solomon, Johnson, Travis & McBride 13). Including, a large portions of ” urban areas also absorbed large numbers of workers leaving welfare, who have similar levels of education and prior work experience, and therefore may compete with former prisoners for the available jobs” (Solomon, Johnson, Travis & McBride 13). Returning prisoners “tend to earn less than individuals with similar background characteristics who have not been incarcerated (Visher).     Together with, when a former prisoner has a criminal record to their name, they are automatically limited to the types of jobs they can apply for. Though it is not legal for “employers to impose a flan ban on hiring ex-offenders, employers are increasingly forbidden from hiring them for certain jobs and are mandated to perform background check before hiring an applicant” (Petersilia 113). To make matters worse, some unions completely prohibit ex-convicts from being hired. Once a former prisoner mentions they have a criminal record, their chances of being hired are greatly reduced. Over sixty percent of “employers surveyed said they would probably not or definitely not hire an applicant with a criminal record” (Petersilia). In fact, “employers are more reluctant to hire ex-offenders than any other disadvantaged group of workers” (Petersilia 117). This is due to employers fearing “legal liabilities that could potentially be created by hiring offenders, and they view their offender status as a signal of lack of reliability and trustworthiness”  (Petersilia 117). There is a claim known as negligent hiring where the employer fears “they will incur liability if that person commits a new crime” (Petersilia 117) under their employment. If an employer does end up hiring former prisoners, they are not always willing “to advance them to positions of responsibility” (Petersilia 114). One of the biggest qualities employers look for is trust, and with the stigma that comes with being an ex-con, they are instantly viewed as untrustworthy. Not to mention, ex-felons face a wage penalty where they receive less pay than their employees without a record. It varies from state to state but the most popular types of jobs ex-felons are instantly denied involve child care, education, security, nursing, beautician, barbering, child and elderly care. Their selections are usually limited to construction, factories, or manual labor. This significantly limits the job selection for ex-cons to choose from. Other obstacles that applicants will encounter are the identity requirements by employers and new online access to records. Post imprisonment, ex-prisoners lose their license and most of the time do not obtain the documentation needed for identification therefore preventing them from applying to jobs. In 1992, a law was passed by Congress “requiring states to revoke or suspend the drivers’ licenses of people convicted of drug felonies” (Petersilia). Correspondingly, as society advances in technology, it is essentially making life harder for prisoners. With the internet being societies main source of retrieving information, there is now a computerized record-keeping system. Although “access to criminal records is beneficial to the public but it causes detrimental effects on returning inmates, given that these records- some of them inaccurate- will be used to make decisions about them for the rest of their lives” (Petersilia 112). In conclusion, with all of these barriers and restrictions in terms of employment, it is extremely difficult for former inmates to successfully reintegrate back into society. Prisoners are being released and fighting these challenges that are almost put in place just for them to fail and be put back in prison. Under the circumstances, ex-prisoners aren’t given a fair chance to get their life back together considering a majority aren’t rehabilitated or acquired skills in prison. Inmates should have the opportunity to obtain skills for post-release to help assist and aid their transition back into society as smoothly and successfully as possible. Alongwith, there needs to be more programs to help qualify prisoners for finding and holding a job.

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