Prison can be a tormenting experience for people who have broken the law at any point in life and at any level. While being in prison, isolation, being the bad guy of society and being stigmatized are the common emotions inmates feel while serving their terms in federal or state prisons. However when offenders are released from penitentiaries after serving their due share, the life outside can be even more agonizing than what they spent in their cells. Unfortunately the social and financial system we live in, is orchestrated in such a way that once a person is convicted of any crime and serves his term, he practically becomes an outcast.
Just to give our readers a fair idea of what an ex-inmate has to go through after he gets his so called freedom back. He cannot get a credit card or a loan. He is ineligible for any kind of insurance unless it’s through an employer. He is often refused even small odd jobs at the smallest of business places. He does not have a right to vote anymore. He stops to qualify for public housing, student loans, or food stamps. He faces extreme difficulty in applying for even a driver’s license because multiple forms of identification are often necessary including utility bill, credit card or lease agreement. To top it all, the society unfortunately makes an ex-prisoner, an untouchable. Although an ex-inmate has already served his due share of burden, but regrettably some of the powers that be in society ensure that his past keeps haunting him. Ironically in such gloomy circumstances most of the ex-prisoners are left with no option but to return to their circle of criminals, who wait for them with open arms and consider them as valuable reinforcements.
In order to make these out casted individuals a useful and integral part of our society again, and to prevent them from becoming a fuel for the criminal world, it is extremely imperative to have specialized organizations which rehabilitate these inmates after their release and help them enter the normal social stream.
Louisiana, the state which has the highest incarceration rate, started a rehabilitation program a few years ago in which the inmates who were about to be released were offered vocational training programs, which taught these prisoners common useful trades like plumbing, welding, wood work and more. Moreover they were also taught anger management and communication. This greatly helped those inmates in reviving their normal lives after release. Moreover the graph of state incarcerations dropped sharply within a few years.
Another similar effort was launched in Washington by Pioneer Human Services which offered ex prisoners complete counseling and assistance packages ranging from job training, job interview training, helping in getting them housed, apprenticeship training, even training them how to get a driver’s license and their voting rights back. Moreover their counselors worked with the clients for complete 12 months, till they made sure the ex-prisoners under their assistance were back on their feet.
.As a prison consultant, I help newly convicted individuals cope with the unfamiliar environments of jail and assist them in overcoming the fear and anxiety of prison. Part of that responsibility is to let my clients know what challenges will likely lie ahead once they are released from prison.
Programs designed to help newly released inmates should focus on addressing individuals’ underlying attitudes about crime and work, making them more likely to succeed at getting and keeping jobs and less likely to re-offend. All ex-felons do not have the same needs, and learning how to accurately assess these attributes and deliver customized help is an important element to truly helping people get out of the criminal justice system. Government agencies should also insist on increased reporting and improved outcomes from their programs and community partners.
Humane efforts by all members in society can not only be life changing for those who are in dire need of being reintegrated back into society but can also prove to be very beneficial for our own social structure in the longer run, since more and more people will be brought back to civilized society and goodness, rather than being pushed back to crime.