Jobs critical for ex-cons

July 28, 2012

We applaud the IBJ and Kathleen McLaughlin for the July 9 cover story, “Should Indy ban ‘the box’?” As the article states, recidivism is a complex issue and no one policy or ordinance can solve the problem of men and women who find themselves stuck in the revolving door of prison. However, numerous studies prove that employment is the key determinant of whether or not an ex-offender returns to prison.

Once given an opportunity at an honest day of work, most will seize it and discover the satisfaction that provides. The reality is that “the box” is a follow-up punishment for one’s crime. Without a job, ex-offenders are less likely to afford their parole child support, screenings and other probation requirements. Because they can’t afford to comply, they wind up back behind bars for technical rule violations, not violent crimes. This costs taxpayers millions.

Employers are effectively taking a pass on a tremendous source of human capital. Rather than spending the public’s money on a black hole problem, the state of Indiana and our local communities must adopt and support re-entry programs and employers that train and assist ex-offenders. The result will be an employee who is grateful for a second chance and indebted to the employer that provided opportunity.

Ed Stites,
director, community outreach, RecycleForce

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