About two-thirds of the arrested population find themselves back in jail. About 45% of federal inmates are rearrested within the first five years of their release. Criminals with a high-school diploma are 10% less likely to be rearrested, however, 40% more likely than convicts with college degrees. Also, over half of the male inmates have a mental illness, while 75% of females in detention facilities do. And only one in six men have reported getting any mental health assistance while in jail. These statistics say all that needs to be said, but I’m long winded so I won’t leave it at that.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe that prisoners and inmates are people. Like all people, they make mistakes. Like most people, they might have issues in their brain. Personally, I make mistakes and I also have a mental illness. I just haven’t made a big enough mistake to be treated like an animal, and my mental illness isn’t so severe that when it is mistaken for who I am I don’t appear dangerous.
Difficulties Of Finding Employment as an Ex-Convict
One of the hardest parts about coming into the real world after living in jail is finding a job. I have a little story for you that paints the picture just right.
There is a man who fell into a drug problem. He came into a great job too early in his life and blew it all on partying with his friends. He dropped out of school because he didn’t need a degree, and eventually started ruining his life. He eventually starts selling cocaine to cover his expenses, not realizing the spiral he has caught himself in. Luckily, he is arrested and put in jail long enough to get clean. However, the amount of cocaine they found on him was enough to label him a felon.
He gets out of jail and starts looking for a job. No degree, no money, and barely any confidence it becomes difficult. He wants to go back to school, but unfortunately, with financial aid in his state, you can commit almost any crime including violent, but distributing drugs makes you inapplicable.
He starts working for minimum wage because it’s the only job that looks past his record. He starts being able to live on his own instead of his friend’s couch. He can buy a car and that is about it for his expenses. And then the company he works for gets bought out and redistributes background checks. Anyone with a criminal record is not allowed to continue with the company, like our guy.
His car payment is due and his rent is right around the corner, he hadn’t made enough to save for an emergency working minimum wage. So, he takes his last paycheck and buys some cocaine and starts selling to his friends to cover rent. Just until he can find a job to make money honestly. And the cycle continues.
One thing ex-convicts are tired of hearing is no. Not because of lack of skills or lack of personality or character, but because of who they are on a piece of paper. Many criminals don’t want to go back to their ways, they just feel backed into it. Our society is so terrified of the word “felon” that anyone who is trying to improve their lives will have to struggle to do so. They have gotten past their past and are trying to move on. You should too.
Mental Health in Prison
I am also under the impression that people with mental illnesses need medication and/or therapy in order to become outstanding members of society. And yet we throw a bunch of those people in a place altogether and expect them to come out better when nothing was done to help them. One of the most common and very serious mental disorders in jail is Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder is when the victim of this disease does not understand right from wrong. They have no empathy towards their fellow man and are very manipulative and destructive. The great thing about modern medicine is that there are ways to cope and treat this disorder. However, when it goes untreated is when psychopathic killers run rampant. And instead of treating their disorder, we sweep them under the rug.
This does absolutely nothing for our society. Letting people sit in time out, marinating in their own reality. When these people are released back into the population, they will be no different. People will still get hurt, and they will return to prison. This does not just go for ASPD, this goes for all mental disorders as well.
We are living in a time where we thirst for progress. All of us do, and we shouldn’t deny it to someone only because they don’t follow our societal norms. We want to become better people. And those of us who don’t, we need guidance to show us our errored ways. Prisoners are still people, and they deserve as many chances as we give the rest of the population that just wasn’t caught.