Over hundreds of individuals are released from prison annually and three-quarters of them are rearrested within five years of their release. Men and women released from custody receive minimal preparation, inadequate assistance, and resources. On top of it, several other factors make their re-entry challenging into communities.
How important is it to transform the current criminal justice system to shift the focus from re-incarceration to successful re-entry into the societies?
In addition, socioeconomic factors play a crucial role in determining successful re-entry outcomes. They not only face difficulties in finding and securing housing but also are deprived of equal job opportunities. They have to fight for basic rights such as education, employment, security, etc.
What Makes Re-Entry into Communities Challenging?
A significant challenge that formerly convicted individuals usually face is re-entry into the labor market! Released prisoners have difficulty in finding a good job since employers are reluctant to hire people with criminal records.
In addition to a criminal record, limited education, the stigma of incarceration, and lack of experience contribute to fewer employment opportunities. Generally, former prisoners find jobs in the foodservice, wholesale, or manufacturing industry because of low skills.
Furthermore, formerly convicted individuals are usually offered lower wages than they earned before incarceration. It eventually leads to obstacles in public and private job sectors since they are unable to obtain professional and technical licenses. Due to limited legal employment opportunities and resources in the community, individuals with a criminal record are more likely to re-offend.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction
A convicted felon:
- loses the right to become an elector and cannot vote, hold public office, or run for office, until he can have these rights restored;
- is disqualified from jury service for seven years, or while he is a defendant in a pending felony case
- loses the ability to have any kinds of weapons
- have difficulty getting a professional license or permit, also licensing agencies are restricted in their ability to distribute licenses
- they cannot take equal participation in any occupation, profession, or business for which a state license or permit is required
Being convicted of a felony is a dismal crime with lifelong consequences. Becoming a convicted felon will have a long-lasting impact on a person’s life as a stigma. Wondering how this changes their life? Eventually, they lose basic civil rights such as the right to vote, the right to sit on a jury, and the right to own or use a firearm.
Convicted felons are also prohibited from certain employment such as law enforcement, the school system, pardons, and hospitals. Employers often reject applicants due to a felony conviction; they check a clean criminal background in order to apply especially for a state job.
Employers also do all of the following:
- Obtain a written and signed consent from the applicant
- Advise the applicant that the employer may disqualify him or her depending on the type of their offense.
- Notify the applicant whether they are hired or not based on the background check.
The Right to Criminal Appeal
After a court has convicted and sentenced a criminal defendant, the defendant may file an appeal to a higher court. He may ask it to review the lower court’s decision for legal errors that may have affected the outcome of his case. If the appellate court grants the appeal, it may reverse the lower court’s decision as a whole. If the appellate court denies the appeal, in that case, the lower court’s decision stands.
Furthermore, for a felony conviction, their past becomes a significant barrier in their ambition. For example, they can neither freely pursue education nor pursue a professional discipline such as nursing, medicine, teaching, real estate, insurance, transportation, financial services, or the practice of law.
It means not only can a felony become a barrier to receiving financial aid, start own business but also become a barrier to entering a professional discipline. If a person is already in a professional career and becomes a convicted felon, he or she may lose their professional license or lose the ability to work in that field again.
In a nutshell, all in all, they are deprived of:
- Voting Rights
- Guns & Weapons
- State Employment Opportunities
- Legal license & permissions
- Government & Private jobs
- No Health & Education facility
- Foster families & adoption
- No housing amenities
- Student loans and aids
These were some of the after-effects of a felony conviction. Many socioeconomic factors play a crucial role in determining successful re-entry into the communities after release.