So I was reading an article on recidivism rates in the US. For those that don't know what recidivism means, it's the rate at which someone, once released from prison, will end up back in prison for committing another crime. It's 43%. I'm sorry, but isn't that almost half? So, at least 1 of every 3 people that go to prison end up going back? Has anyone ever really looked at this double edged sword we have created with our justice system?
Here's my problem with it. First off, I do believe in the right to privacy and the constitution was created to protect those rights. So, without a warrant, the law isn't allowed to interfere with your privacy. I know this is a great concept and people might say that's not really how is it, I'm just using it for the sake of making a point. So, what about background checks? When was it moral or ethical to openly discriminate against a person because of something that happened in their past they can't change?
Here's an example:
So, let's refer to this person as Bob. Bob convicted of a crime he truly did not commit and it's extreme enough to put him in prison. While in prison, Bob's wife divorces him, takes their children, their home and everything else they had and moves somewhere he doesn't know. His parents and the rest of his family turn their back on him. Never call, never write. So Bob serves his time, and is released. When he gets out, almost every shred of his former life is gone and he is now labeled as either an ex-con or a felon.
So, obviously Bob has two choices. Does he stay out, or does he go back in?
Let's looks at each choice and see which would be the most advantageous for Bob.
He has some lifer friends in there and some close relationships. He's been a mentor for new inmates and assisting them with assimilation into the prison environment. He's well respect by the guards and by most of the other inmates. He has plenty of time to read and focus on his wants and desires with no distraction of bills or where to live. He's got a nice room setup with a cable tv, stereo, dvd player and plenty of books and notepads for his thoughts. He gets three good meals a day. A shower, clothes, razors, free healthcare, free meds, free haircuts. Because he does mentoring, he doesn't have to do any other work. He has access to the internet and met a woman online that provides conjugal visits once a month. Plus, imagine what kind of fun Bob could have knowing where he was going to be going?
Well, Bob has his freedom, right? Well, first off, he has no family to call, no place to live, no job and basically his possessions consist of what he took in with him and what little money he got from working at the prison. To make it even better, society will now label him as an ex-con or a felon. So, Bob find a bed at a local mission for the nights and is very optimistic about finding a job in the morning. He had time in prison to develop some business skills and prepared a very presentable resume with many references. He finds three different jobs he is qualified for and goes to the interviews. As he is in each interview, he shows a lot of character and drive and many of the things employers look for. Then, at the end of each interview, he is informed that for "insurance reason" they have to perform a criminal background check. At that point, Bob explains his situation and in each instance, Bob is informed that because of insurance reasons, they can't hire "a person like him". So, Bob works some odd jobs for some felony friendly companies but it's mostly minimum wage and he lives in a city that has a relatively high cost of living. So, Bob moves to another town, with a smaller cost of living and a possible change he won't have to face a background check. Once her arrives, goes to three different interviews and each result in the same thing. One did tell him that they had a 7 year period from the time of the conviction before they can consider him for employment. Now, he starts to lose hope and starts to run out of the little money he has. He has one of two choices. He can keep pursuing a job until he is forced to commit crime for survival, or he can decide to go down to the welfare office and file for government assistance. While waiting for his application to process, Bob stays at a homeless shelter. He doesn't have much and really only needs a bed and a shower. Within a couple days his application is processed and because of his inability to find employment based on his record, he will receive full welfare benefits including food stamps, housing and long term disability. Later, he moves into his own place, all without having to work or pay any money of his own and no need to unless he wants some extra money.
Both situations are hypothetical but not without warrant. This does happen and people do get rewarded for committing crimes. I personally think that this whole thing is bullshit. We have a justice system in this country that was established to punish those that committed crimes. You do the crime, you do the time and it was always considered paying your debt to society. But, does it really mean that anymore? I'm serious when I say who the hell thought allowing companies to openly discriminate against job applicants based on their past would help anything? Wouldn't it be more logical to hire someone with a background because they might have learned their lesson? I believe most crimes committed within a business are committed by those that have clean backgrounds? There is a fine line between those with backgrounds and those without. One got caught and another didn't.
Society, this is a problem. We have a justice system to punish those that commit crimes and obviously, because we have continued to allow it to exist, we must believe in it's purpose. To allow employers to perform background checks and openly discriminate against an individual solely based on their past is creating a social disability. Yes, that's right. We are disabling perfect capable people of being functioning members of society because of our double standards. We want them to do the time, forever.
I would love to hear opinions on this because I'm really tired of my tax dollars going to federal and state adult daycare centers and I'm tired of paying for people because they aren't allowed to function in society.
If I think about Bob's situation, either situation is pretty tempting because neither of them will require he hold himself accountable for his actions. That is what I have a problem with. I have no problem helping those with true disabilities but I refuse to pay good money to support people with a disability created by the same society that claims to want to rehabilitate them.