Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Cost of the Loss of Rights

Recently I read an article on the ACLU site that talked about One in Every Thirty-One Adults having a criminal record. They quoted the report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) which, to give you the gist, states that numbers are up for people on parole/probation.

I bring this to your attention to illustrate a simple idea that occurred to me. If you took the 7.8 million offenders that the report talks about, and gave them the ability to be productive members to society, what would the influx of tax monies entail? Think on it this way; if you took each offender and multiplied it by an imaginary number of $10,000 (roughly the taxes to be paid by someone making $50,000), what would you get? Roughly 78 BILLION dollars. Now, if we had received the taxes on theses people in this amount for the last 10 years, would we have needed a Federal Bailout?

But, with the criminal record and the loss of rights that each offender has received as part of their sentencing, they lose the ability to become productive members to society.

Now, some offenders are unable to control themselves and recidivate. Those will be perpetually in the system. But, those offenders who learned their lesson, and have tried to return to society to gain employment have found it difficult to get jobs because of their record and our publics perception.

Recently I learned of a program that helps offenders get back on their feet. In the manual for that program, I learned that persons with Criminal Records and are on welfare, make up 46% of the welfare population. This program is designed to help overcome the "barriers" these offenders have in getting employment and getting off of welfare.

If the public perception wasn't so strong against those that have criminal records, they might have an easier time at getting work. Then, they would be able to contribute to society. And a lot of them would make more than $50,000 in a year. Some would make upwards of six figures.

So, with such a sizeable chunk of our population unable to gain meaningful employment, and unable to pay their potential in tax revenue, our Country is continually losing out on some serious revenue potential.

Do you think that offenders who have learned their lesson and are trying to reintegrate with society should be segregated from the other potential candidates for employment? If an ex-offender has the potential to contribute to society more than they currently are, shouldn't the door be opened for them? If 1 in 31 has a criminal record, and has lost their rights, wouldn't voting on new laws be skewed from their true potential?

Is ostracism effective?


Anonymous said...

The American people like to stereotype folks into categoreis and the government makes it really easy for former offenders with a public registry then punitive panalties attached to this registration procedure. We lose billions due to them not being able to be productive citizens and rejoin society as a whole and we lose billions to monitor non violent and non dangerous offenders who are no threat to society.

MonsterMart said...

Well done, Avendora! Very thought provoking piece. Why does the government not seriously develop and implement such rational, productive, money-making ideas like you suggest? In a word--fear. The more we give into it, the worse it becomes, until we are tied up to the point of....well, like we are now.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if the 1 in 31 had the ability to vote but most states have laws against former felons the privledge to vote.

Today in America, thanks to media hounds, reporting news has become less of importanance and more of importance is shaming.

I lived across the street from a convicted felon who was convicted and served time for multiple DUI's. While he was sentenced to prison because of manditory sentencing, he gained nothing in ways of combating his addiction to alcohol. Sure he had to attend state run programs prior to his final conviction that sent him to prison, but those programs are to serve the multiples not the indivdual.

So, upon his release he returned to the life of alcohol. What has happened to him now I do not know because he has since moved.

My point is, I would have rather had my tax payer dollars spent on his combatting an addiction with pshychological help, accountabilty and other indivdualized programs for his success over wasting my tax payer dollars to sit in a prison because of mandatory sentencing doing nothing nor receiving any type of rehabilative services for his addiction.

Until the Criminal Justice System begins to recognize people are individuals and need individual modes of treatment rather than mandatory sentencing guidelines or mandatory serve the multiples treatment we will continue to have decrease revenues and increased waste.

Just my two cents.

Avendora said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I too feel that there needs to be a serious overhaul of our Judicial system and how it approaches Justice. Treatment does in fact need to be individualized. But, until enough people stand up and say "Enough!", it's not going to happen.

Again, I thank you for your comment. And I hope you will continue to read.

Anonymous said...

You mention the federal bailout--- but what about all the people who are on welfare? They are taking up a lot of money from the state. Which could reduce the amount of money that the state has to spend...and I'm sure that if those people could be employed that it would save a considerable amount of money as well.