I recently listened to a podcast called “Ex-Con.” It is part of a new series titled Sincerely, X. This episode hits very close to home for a great many of us. The subject of the episode was convicted of securities fraud and sent to federal prison for 7 years.
In the episode, the ex-con discusses how he feels the prison system is terribly detrimental to one’s future. He discusses how prisons should be focused on release from the very first day. He brings up that so many people in prison are wasting their time, spinning their wheels. Maybe there could be some type of public/private partnership with companies to help people inside gain skills that would help them when they’re out.
I personally find it very short sighted that our society is perfectly happy to lock you up and spend the $xx,000 dollars per year to keep you housed, but the day you are released, you’re given not much more than a kick in the rear and sent on your way. It’s ‘expected’ that you won’t use the revolving door to return. I would ask politicians what they expect people to do when they get out if they aren’t prepared. Without coming out better than when they went in, their return to prison is almost guaranteed. Granted, some people do use the time in prison to reboot themselves psychologically, and some, the more fortunate, either had or manage to acquire some marketable skills that will serve them well when they get out. For the rest, it is incredibly challenging when they are released to get a job, pay monthly bills, meet supervision requirements, etc.
We would need a dramatic shift in how we think of people who are ex-cons. It does seem like a better idea to identify desires and aptitudes of people on the inside to set them up for a better chance of success when they are released. I think about 95% of people will be released from prison. It would be a front loaded investment to fund these types of programs. There is a huge infrastructure of crowd-sourced curriculum that could be used at a greatly reduced cost.
I found the episode to be very enlightening. I strongly recommend it to everyone who has an interest in improving our criminal justice system.