Give convicts a second chance

By Thunderword Staff



Crime and punishment are basic principles of government, with justice being served when those convicted of a crime
pay in time. But after time is served and justice is fulfilled, formerly incarcerated people are then sent into the world with the goal of rejoining society, but often have no plans or skills for their future.

The issue with this system is it puts people on the path to failure, not knowing how to re-enter normal society. Within three years of release, 67.8 percent of ex-offenders are rearrest- ed; within five years, 76.6 percent are rearrested.

In the current system, when a person is released from prison, they are expected to have the skills, knowledge, and resources available to them to be successful. In reality, these expectations are rarely met, partially due to an overall lack of support for incarcerated persons transitioning into normal society.

Formerly incarcerated people face challenges in finding housing, a job, and supporting their families while remaining in legal compliance. Transportation is often an issue as most former offenders have their driver's licenses revoked.

These issues are especially tough for felons, as they face higher levels of unemployment and homelessness, as their sta- tus deters potential employers and landlords. Felons are half as likely to be offered a job, even when they are more qualified.

However, there is one major difference between ex-of- fenders who stayed out of jail and those who were rearrested: education. The vast majority of reoffending convicts are high school dropouts, whereas those who finished high school are far less likely to return to prison. Similarly, those who pursued their education after release were more likely to find jobs and housing.

This education is especially needed for offenders who have served long sentences. Because they have been in prison, they have missed radical changes of technology in industry. In order to join the workforce, they will need to receive some training.

The secondary education system is extremely forgiving, allowing people of all ages and experiences to have a second chance at a diploma. Colleges offer high school completion courses, technical certifications, and workforce training. At Highline, those looking to complete their high school diploma have a variety of support programs, both in and out of the classroom.

The newest addition to these support programs is the Jus- tice Scholars Society for Change. This on-campus group tries to bring change to the community mindset towards formally incarcerated people, as well as providing support for transi- tioning convicts.

For more information on group meetings, activities, and how to get involved, contact JSSOC President Louis Irhig at lgihrig@students.highline.edu.

It is time that we acknowledge formerly incarcerated people as part of the Highline community and the greater society. Take the time to understand that they are more than their mistakes, recognize that everyone deserves a second chance, and support those who need help in facing these challenges.

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