Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Putting Felons to Work

Stephanie Harris' management and sales skills helped her earn $3,000 for just six or seven hours of work on a "good" day.

Over 10 years, Harris says, she earned about half a million dollars. But her job took away her freedom.

Harris was sentenced in 2007 to eight years in prison for selling heroin. Since she was a teen, Harris has been in and out of correctional institutions for various felony charges — mostly for selling heroin and crack cocaine.

Christine Foote, with her long dusty-brown hair and black-rimmed glasses, looks as though she should be working in an office. And she had been working as an administrative assistant when she was sentenced to 10 years for stealing more than $68,000 from her employer, a Salisbury, Md., roofing company.

Read more... 

Prisons continue to fail to provide adequate rehabilitation opportunities.  A recent report revealed that 65% of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated have a substance abuse issue, but only 11% are receiving treatment. Once released offenders face a host of barriers to success. We need more efforts such as the one described in the above article. Treatment, jobs, education, patience and understanding are needed if the recidivism rate is ever going to be reduced. Without more programs that help offenders re-enter society successfully, the day is fast approaching when the underclass that the sentencing policies of the 1980s created will overwhelm our existing resources.

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