Recidivism Rates

I was talking with some guys in my unit the other day about why the recidivism rate is so high for Federal prisoners. One of the guys (we will call him Bruce) is a banker serving 33 months for bank fraud. The other guy (we will call him Tim) is a mortgage broker serving 60 months for mail fraud.

After spending time in Prison, Bruce, Tim and I all reached the same conclusion about the recidivism rate-Nothing is being done to assist prisoners to prepare for the real world after their sentence is completed. A number of prisoners never had a real job. Other prisoners have held jobs but have spent 5 or 10 years in prison and have lost valuable skills during their prison term. These folks get returned to society after being warehoused for years and it is no wonder that they cannot earn a legitimate living since they have limited skills and the felon label.

Employers shy away from felons regardless of their qualifications. Lack of employment is the largest cause of recidivism.

Bruce suggested that prisoners should be offered vocational training in a variety of professions. For example, HVAC training or Computer Code training. If they successfully complete the program, their sentences should be reduced by a year. Since the BOP spends $ 30,000 a year housing a prisoner, they could use the $ 30,000 they save to educate the prisoner so He is returned to society qualified to work in a real job.

In addition to being trained in an occupation, a prisoner needs to understand how to prepare a resume and more importantly, how to interview for a job. When a felon gets to the interview stage of the job application process, He needs to know how to respond to the obvious question all employers will ask “Tell Me about your prior problem with the law?” How a felon answers this question will determine if He is considered for a job or quickly shown the door.

Bruce, Tim and I would like to conduct mock interviews of prisoners who are close to their release date. We have all been involved in the hiring process in our former lives so we could offer some level of expertise in this area. We would like to sit in our cube and stage a mock interview with a soon to be released prisoner and critique his performance. We believe that the feedback we could offer may assist the prisoner in his job pursuit and prevent Him from simply being another number in the prisoner recidivism statistics.

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Ken Flaska

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