One of the greatest reentry challenges that ex-offenders face is lack of sustainable employment. In fact, most ex-offenders have to cope with low-paying jobs as the high-paying ones seem to be out of reach.

Although low-wage jobs are better than none, they aren’t sustainable. Thus, ex-offenders earning low wages can barely pay for their basic wants, entertainment, and health covers.

Their children are likely to drop out of school or even develop health complications. These and many other challenges push ex-convicts to re-offend.

Limitation to employment and earning among former convicts

Returning ex-offenders are less likely to find employment. For one, they lack the employable skills and educational qualifications that most recruiters are looking for. Approximately 70% of inmates and ex-offenders didn’t complete their high school education. This education barrier disqualifies them for jobs that require tertiary education.

Second, ex-offenders lack the necessary work experience needed for employment. Also, most ex-offenders are victims of drug and substance abuse as well as mental and physical illness. Moreover, minority groups, primarily black and Asian Americans, make the highest number of offenders. And as it is, minority groups mainly experience employment discrimination.

How to overcome barriers to sustainable employment

Education and training

Individual prisoners who gain education and vocational training are highly likely to find employment. Therefore, inmates should be encouraged to acquire training for felons and education as they will help them out of prison.

Massively applying for jobs

Finding employment requires personal effort. And for returning ex-offenders to land their dream jobs, they have to search extensively and apply massively.

controlling your attitude and making informed choices

Some ex-offenders prefer illicit activities that make them quick cash than employment. Unfortunately, such illicit activities ultimately land them in prison again. Therefore, ex-offenders should embrace employment/work as the only legitimate way to earn a living.

Seeking medical assistance

Employers will hesitate to hire mentally or physically ill persons. Seeking medical will not only heal the patients but also declare them fit for employment

Policy amendments

  • Lawmaker should make policies that ease the process for employers to hire prisoners while they are still imprisoned;
  • They should also amend legal barriers to employment of returning ex-convicts and perhaps provide a framework for the regulation of the extend of public details on criminal history;
  • The federal and state governments should provide substantial funding for the attempts of mediator agencies to connect recently freed offenders with the job market;
  • Similarly, the federal and state governments should increase funding and extension efforts for guarantee or tax credits to recruiters who hire them; and
  • Lastly, the government should increase financial stimulus for ex-convicts (and other low-income persons) to take on and keep low-wage employment

In summary

Most ex-offenders find it challenging to obtain employment. Discrimination and lack of sought-after skills make ex-offenders only eligible for unskilled low paying jobs. Although low-wage employment isn’t sustainable, it is better than none. Ex-offenders can accept such jobs, as they look for better-paying ones, gain experience and further their studies.

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