Change is needed.
Employment rates and earning histories of people in prison and jail are often low before incarceration as a result of limited education, low job skill levels and prevalence of physical and mental health problems. Only half have a high school degree or equivalent . To make things worse, The American Bar Association has documented 27,254 state occupational licensing restrictions nationwide for people with a criminal record. Furthermore, crucial educational public assistance, like the Pell Grant, usually prohibits ex-convict .
Of those who have a mental illness, about three-quarters also have a co-occurring substance use disorder that lead to their incarceration . Upon release, 40% of those with mental issues immediately become and remain homeless . To make things worse, many state and federal laws prevent them receiving crucial public assistance such as the TANF program and Pell grants. At their most vulnerable time, most are left reentering the population with no housing, no job training and innadequate Mental health care.
An estimated 2.7 million children in the U.S. have a parent in prison or jail—that is 1 in every 28 children .
A recent study in California found that the annual cost for one inmate is over $75,000. The average cost for those in New York City, $167,731 . Harvard tuition is $46,340 per year.
In comparison, reports indicate that it would only cost as much as $4,700 for drug treatment and $10,000 for mental health services.
Over 4,000 Corporations profits are directly tied to the American jail system. Common brand names like Amazon, 3M, Hewitt Packard and Bank of America saw significant profit . While companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO group profited over $2.53 billion in 2012 alone. Often, states are under contract with corporations to keep a certain occupancy rate, and are fined if not met .
Oklahoma Prisoner Jamontra Williams graduates with honors and discusses what the opportunity meant to him; describes the day as beautiful.
Arte Nathan discusses his experience with hiring ex-convicts. How giving people an opportunity and doing a good deed can be it’s own reward.
Sabrina Williams, founder of The Actor’s Gang Prison Project, discusses helping newly released convicts.