No sure thing: on the outside, many ex-offenders find they need more than jobs to keep them from going back to prison.A little more than a decade ago, Willie Fry's heroin problem cost him his job. He was a client-outreach worker at the Infant Mortality (hardware) infant mortality - It is common lore among hackers (and in the electronics industry at large) that the chances of sudden hardware failure drop off exponentially with a machine's time since first use (that is, until the relatively distant time at which enough mechanical Network and enjoyed it, but getting high and making it to work on time didn't mix. About four months into the job, his attendance problems led to a suspension, and he didn't go back.
Then the addiction cost him his freedom.
He was selling drugs at the intersection of Cicero Avenue and Huron Street to fund his habit when police pulled up alongside him. He ran. They caught him. He was sentenced to prison for possession. A year and a half later, he was sentenced again for dealing. And, a year after that, he was sentenced to another three years.
But, just after his third release from prison, Fry had a breakthrough: a return to legitimate employment. He landed a job as a truck driver's helper for an appliance company, and, for the first time since he'd left the Infant Mortality Network, he made money without breaking the law. "When I first started the job, it was actually what I wanted to do--it was a good thing because it gave me opportunity," said Fry, now 35. "But I wasn't mentally ready for it. I worked for a little bit, and then I got back to what I call my madness--I was actually starting back on my addiction when I got the job."
Because of his addiction, Friday paychecks meant Monday no-shows, and, after about two months, Fry was fired. He was handed his fourth drug conviction about three weeks after that; his fifth, three years later.
A job alone may not keep someone out of jail, statistics show. Those who find work are indeed less likely to reoffend, and many charitable organizations This article is about charitable organizations. For other uses of the word charity, see Charity.
A charitable organization (also known as a charity) is an organization with charitable purposes only. and lawmakers have focused on employment programs for former offenders. But experts say cases like Fry's illustrate the need for a holistic approach holistic approach A term used in alternative health for a philosophical approach to health care, in which the entire Pt is evaluated and treated. See Alternative medicine, Holistic medicine. to lowering recidivism recidivism: see criminology. , including an interest in factors like housing, substance abuse and attitudes.
Former prisoners themselves readily admit that a job isn't a cure-all. For example, 47-year-old Alphonso Prater prate
v. prat·ed, prat·ing, prates
To talk idly and at length; chatter.
To utter idly or to little purpose.
n. , who has been to prison four times, mostly for dealing drugs, described the street lifestyle as a "roller coaster What a bad CD-R disc is often called. See CD-R and underrun. ."
"If they catch you at the bottom, in the gutter In typography, the space between two columns. , you might take that job," he said. "But, if they catch you on that high roll, you're not going to get off." Prater now works as an outreach worker for CeaseFire, a Chicago-based violence prevention organization.
In 2001, the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based policy research organization, began a study called "Chicago Prisoners' Experiences Returning Home." Researchers asked 400 former prisoners released into the Chicago area about employment four to eight months after release. At the 13-month mark, they checked to see who had returned to prison.
Among those who were working four to eight months after release, 18 percent were back in prison by 13 months. Of those who were unemployed, 33 percent went back. Participants who did not go back were also more likely to have worked prior to entering prison than those who returned to prison.
Paul Kleppner, director for the Office for Social Policy Research at Northern Illinois University , said individuals who can't find work will find other--sometimes illegal--ways to make money. "If you're not gainfully gain·ful
Providing a gain; profitable: gainful employment.
gainful·ly adv. employed, you're going to be not-gainfully employed," said Kleppner. "If you can't get a job, what can you do?"
Employers are reluctant to hire people with felony felony (fĕl`ənē), any grave crime, in contrast to a misdemeanor, that is so declared in statute or was so considered in common law. records--some former prisoners reported filling out as many as 30 applications without being offered a single interview. Also, in a study by Northwestern University Northwestern University, mainly at Evanston, Ill.; coeducational; chartered 1851, opened 1855 by Methodists. In 1873 it absorbed Evanston College for Ladies. sociologist Devah Pager 1. (hardware, communications) pager - (Or "beeper", "bleeper" (UK?)) A small wireless receiver that, when triggered (generally via phone), will beep or vibrate (un)pleasantly. , 17 percent of white job applicants with criminal records received callbacks compared to 34 percent of white job applicants without records. For African Americans African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. , just 5 percent with criminal records got callbacks compared to 14 percent of black job applicants with no records.
Tommy Turner Thomas "Tommy" Turner (born 11 October 1963 in Johnstone, Renfrewshire) is a Scottish former professional footballer.
He was captain of the St. Mirren side that won the Scottish First Division in 1999-2000. , 43, has worked seasonal jobs for the past five years but nothing permanent. During that time, he's also been to prison twice for drug convictions. Turner believes he could have stayed out of trouble if he'd had a year-round job. "I would have been able to provide for myself and my family, and put food on the table," said Turner, a client of Chicago's Safer Foundation, which provides services to former prisoners looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. work. "It was during my times off that I started selling drugs, using drugs, and eventually I didn't have the patience to look for a job."
Homeless and unable to find work in 2003 while on parole from a burglary conviction, Richard Russo
Richard Russo (born July 15 1949) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Born in Johnstown, New York, and raised in nearby Gloversville, he earned a B.A. (1967), a M.F.A. stole and sold stolen property to get by. But then he found a part-time job at a fast-food, pizza restaurant. "I wasn't committing crimes at that point because I was getting a steady paycheck," said Russo, 28. However, the thefts soon caught up with him and led to a one-year sentence.
Even low-wage jobs might serve as a deterrent for some returning home from prison. The Urban Institute study indicates that former prisoners who were working earned about $9 an hour, a figure that compares favorably fa·vor·a·ble
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.
2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.
3. to the earnings of their returned-to-crime counterparts, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. one study by a pair of University of Chicago scholars. In analyzing one Chicago gang, Sudhir Venkatesh and Steven Levitt Steven David "Steve" Levitt (born May 29, 1967) is a prominent American economist best known for his work on crime, in particular on the link between legalized abortion and crime rates. Winner of the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal, he is currently the Alvin H. found that low-level drug dealers made less than $4 an hour.
"You read in newspapers where people make $20,000 in two weeks, but some of these guys only make a couple hundred dollars on the street," said Tio Hardiman, director of gang mediation services and community organizing The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. for the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, which runs CeaseFire. "But they compare a hundred dollars to no money [if they can't find a job], and they're drawn back to the street life because they have families to feed or they have to feed themselves."
But a job can benefit those returning home in ways beyond their pocketbooks. "It keeps you grounded and focused, even if the pay might not be as good as you'd want. Idle hands are the devil's workshop, and, when you go home, you're worn out," said Tyree Chapman, who served 11 years in prison for armed robbery and murder. "My job helps me feel good about myself, besides paying the bills."
After release, Chapman stayed at St. Leonard's House, a facility that guides ex-offenders into self-sufficient lifestyles. He found work as a machine operator and later returned to St. Leonard's, where he now serves as a house manager.
For all of these reasons--money, stability, self-esteem-people trying to help ex-offenders often think employment is the best way to reduce recidivism.
"We focus 100 percent on employment," said Jodina Hicks Hicks , Edward 1780-1849.
American painter of primitive works, notably The Peaceable Kingdom, of which nearly 100 versions exist. , vice president of public policy and community partnerships for Safer. "We understand there are other factors, and we work with clients on them, but we see it all as an effort to propel them into employment."
Hicks believes Safer's model is working. More than 54 percent of those released from Illinois prisons in 2000 returned within three years. But clients that Safer successfully places in jobs--meaning they work at least 30 days--return to prison just 18 percent of the time, according to research by Arthur Lurigio, a psychologist and professor of criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago Beginnings and expansions
Founded in 1870 as the St Ignatius College on Chicago's West Side. In 1908 the School of Law was established as the first of the professional programs. .
Chicago-area charitable foundations also focus on employment far more than any other factor. In July 2004, The Woods Fund of Chicago released an analysis of local services provided to individuals released from prison, including a breakdown of the programs to which 15 major foundations provided money.
Eight foundations gave grants to help with employment services or vocational training, compared to four for housing, four for education and three for health services health services Managed care The benefits covered under a health contract . Only one gave money to help reunite re·u·nite
tr. & intr.v. re·u·nit·ed, re·u·nit·ing, re·u·nites
To bring or come together again.
[-niting, -nited ex-offenders with their families, and only one earmarked funds to reintegrate re·in·te·grate
tr.v. re·in·te·grat·ed, re·in·te·grat·ing, re·in·te·grates
To restore to a condition of integration or unity.
re former prisoners into their communities.
"There isn't one thing that will fix everything, and it's short-sighted if people think otherwise, but employment is a crucial piece of the puzzle," said Nikki Will Stein, executive director of the Polk Bros BROS Brothers
BROS Benefits and Retirement Operations Section (King County, Washington)
BROS Barnes and Richmond Operatic Society (London, UK) . Foundation, which reported funding employment services, vocational training, housing and community reintegration reintegration /re·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in-te-gra´shun)
1. biological integration after a state of disruption.
2. restoration of harmonious mental function after disintegration of the personality in mental illness. .
Also, most programs that receive "employment" grants refer their clients to other services, said Felicia Dawson, a program officer for family and community asset building at The Steans Family Foundation. Steans provided funds for employment services, vocational training and housing, according to the Woods Fund report.
The government has also made employment the focus of its efforts to aid people returning home from prison. On Jan. 1, 2004, for instance, Illinois revised its criminal code to allow increased access to a range of state business licenses that were previously off limits to individuals with a felony conviction. Other laws have made it easier for them to get identification cards and seal low-level felony records.
"There are other things that are not available to people who have records," like public housing, higher education higher education
Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art. funding, access to credit and the ability to adopt children, said state Rep. Connie Howard, a Democrat whose 34th District includes parts of the South Side and south suburbs. She sponsored the legislation that allows some to seal their records. "But I think that jobs are just so important," she said.
As important as jobs may be, everyone with a job is not safe--and everyone without one isn't doomed. Such exceptions bound in the Urban Institute's study: two-thirds of unemployed former prisoners didn't go back to prison, while one in five of those who were working did. Advocates, experts and former prisoners point to a wide variety of reasons this could be the case.
Ex-offenders might perform best when they straighten out their problems before finding work. Drug treatment, for example, has to come before and during employment, said Tom Wetzel, former director of business relations for the North Lawndale Employment Network. "I've seen addicts who've been clean for awhile a·while
For a short time.
Usage Note: Awhile, an adverb, is never preceded by a preposition such as for, but the two-word form a while may be preceded by a preposition. get that first paycheck and go back," he added.
Fry, the former heroin addict Any individual who habitually uses any narcotic drug so as to endanger the public morals, health, safety, or welfare, or who is so drawn to the use of such narcotic drugs as to have lost the power of self-control with reference to his or her drug use. who went back to prison even though he had a job, received help through the North Lawndale Employment Network's U-Turn Permitted program. Like many programs assisting former prisoners, U-Turn requires drug tests. "In my situation, the number one thing was getting clean," said Fry, who completed the program in May and now works at a peanut factory. "If you're not clean, your mind is only on one thing, and that's getting high."
Bernard Jones doesn't have a job, but that's because he plans to take time getting his life together. Since his mother's suicide, when he was 9, Jones has struggled with anger and drug problems. In the past, when he was able to find a job or saw any opportunity to make money, he'd jump at it. But things haven't always worked out. Jones, 46, has been to prison six times, most often on drug charges. He now resides at St. Leonard's House. "Now I'm not in a hurry to get a job, because of the other things I need to work on, like education and patience," he said. "Once I get all that in place, a job will come, and I'll be ready for it."
Even if rushing into a job too soon isn't an issue, a plethora plethora /pleth·o·ra/ (pleth´ah-rah)
1. an excess of blood.
2. by extension, a red florid complexion.pletho´ric
1. of factors including housing, physical and mental health, family support, and peer pressure come into play, experts say.
Former prisoners who did not return to prison also tended to describe their neighborhoods as safe, according to the Urban Institute study. Many former prisoners, especially those returning to Chicago's black neighborhoods, don't have that luxury--most return to the city's leading areas for crime, drug arrests and unemployment.
"If you're surrounded by a bunch of drug dealing and crime, it's harder for you to make a successful reintegration in the neighborhood," said Christy chris·ty
Variant of christie. Visher, principal research associate for the Urban Institute and co-author of the study.
Jones knows this first-hand. Being back with his old friends wasn't helpful. "I had about a six-block radius that was my world," he said. "I got love in the streets, and that's basically what I was looking for. My guys were telling me: 'You don't have to work no job.'"
Some say life on the outside can even be too accommodating, allowing former prisoners to reject important responsibilities. Jones said he always stayed with family when he was released. He appreciated the support, but being with relatives had its drawbacks. "It was good, but it was bad, too," he said. "They said, 'Come home and don't worry about anything,' and it was too easy. I never learned to be on my own."
Many advocates, scholars and even former prisoners themselves agree that a job won't help someone released from prison if they don't have the right attitude. Hardiman compared the hustler hustler Sexology A ♂ paid to service–nudge, nudge, wink, wink–♀ or other ♂ persona to a drug addiction--when some people are released, they have nothing on their minds but going right back to dealing drugs. And, Wetzel said, sometimes organizations will match former prisoners with jobs, only to have the new employee quit or get fired. He estimated that 80 percent to 90 percent will lose their jobs within a year.
For some, it may just take time for those attitudes to change. Former prisoners and advocates agree that older is wiser, and that maturity leads to less recidivism. "When a person gets older, he gets more experienced," said Safer client Dwight Pharr, 48, who has been to prison six times on theft and burglary charges. "You come to the realization that life isn't going to wait for you, and you'd better do something before it's too late."
Illinois Department of Corrections statistics show that individuals younger than 21 had a recidivism rate of 63 percent, the highest of all age groups. The oldest prisoners, ages 56 and older, went back 23 percent of the time, the lowest recidivism rate, the data show.
Jim Zangs, director of the Michael Barlow bar·low
An inexpensive, one- or two-bladed pocketknife.
[After Barlow, the family name of its makers, two brothers in Sheffield, England.] Center, a new St. Leonard's-run facility with education and job-placement programs, said he's seen three broad personality types in people returning home from prison. "Maybe 10 or 20 percent of ex-offenders are highly motivated, and they will succeed no matter what. Another 10 or 20 percent are still involved in their old lifestyles, and the opportunities you offer don't make a difference," he said. "But there's a big group of people in the middle, who will make it with some help."
Some advocates are taking stock of all these factors. The Rev. John H. Crawford Jr., president of Chicago s FAITH Inc., said his organization supported legislation helping ex-offenders get state identification cards--not just to make finding employment easier, but to help with housing and other benefits as well. "Without ID, you can't get access to the support you need," he said.
Also, two recent federal initiatives seek a more holistic approach to preventing recidivism. The Prisoner Reentry reentry n. taking back possession and going into real property which one owns, particularly when a tenant has failed to pay rent or has abandoned the property, or possession has been restored to the owner by judgment in an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Initiative and the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative have $300 million and $100 million, respectively, to fund programs to assist people returning home from prison. One program focuses on nonviolent offenders, and the other for individuals who've committed more serious crimes.
Both initiatives will devote significant amounts of energy to factors other than employment. While the Prisoner Reentry Initiative is "employment-based," it will incorporate "housing, mentoring, job training and other transitional services." The Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative will concentrate on "education, job and life-skills training, and substance-abuse treatment," according to government press releases.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has received $2 million from the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative and used it to partner with service providers, including the North Lawndale Employment Network.
In addition, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis Danny Davis is the name of:
A similar measure died in committee in 2004, but Davis thinks it will pass this year. The bill calls for money to help pay for housing, drug treatment, education, mental health, and mentoring, in addition to employment, but Davis didn't see the current focus on jobs as problematic. "You can't overemphasize o·ver·em·pha·size
tr. & intr.v. o·ver·em·pha·sized, o·ver·em·pha·siz·ing, o·ver·em·pha·siz·es
To place too much emphasis on or employ too much emphasis. employment," he said.