Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work please?

I'm sure that it's not news to anyone that we're in an era of limited jobs. In some states, the governments are considering releasing prisoners because of short funding. I haven't quite figured out what the states think the released prisoners will do for food and shelter. Some might even commit a new crime so that they can return to jail. Or as one guy in Taiwan did, they might ask the police to return them to jail.

In a free market economy with an excess of over qualified candidates, the newly released prisoner is not going to be the first choice for the job. Yet, former prisoners have all the same basic needs as the rest of us. They need shelter and food... and a job.

Like most Americans, I have members of my family who have spent time as guests of the state or county. They've put in their time and have been released. But for them there are no jobs. In a society that pays lip service to the idea of incarceration as full payment for crime, we are strangely intolerant of the new releasee. That taint of prison hangs on for the rest of their lives. So in truth, restitution is never over--even for the most minor of crimes.

In our current financial crisis, it will only get worse. When former prisoners are perceived as taking jobs of fine upstanding citizens, tolerance will be non-existent. What then are these men and women going to do for food and shelter?

Many cities already have huge homeless populations. Families have lost homes and jobs and live in tent cities and cars. Isn't the early release of prisoners going to exacerbate the problem?

I watch the chasm between the haves and have-nots widening daily and wonder at what point the have-nots will be desperate enough to join forces and take back the necessities of life from the haves. Then what will happen? It is a perilously thin line we walk between comfort and homelessness.



  1. Anny, there has always been and always will be haves and have nots. This is nothing new.

  2. Releasing prisoners early is a bad idea. I know it costs money to feed and clothe them but releasing them into an already overburdened population with no means to support themselves will make a bad situation worse.

  3. Actually, for anyone who looks, in the US, there IS statistical evidence of 1) the gap widening between the upper and (former) middle classes and 2) the increasing number of people living below the poverty line, even though the poverty index has been adjusted to NOT include rising costs of heating fuel, gasoline, or groceries. Yep, all three of those factors have been officially removed from cost-of-living calculations. After all, people don't need food, heat or transportation to survive. Right?

  4. Honestly, like most other single mom's out there, I've spent more time in the 'have not' social class than that of the 'haves' and I'm afraid that I agree that the world is making a radical shift in this substandard economy.
    I now see more than just single mother's and their kids having to make financial sacrifices, as well as having to cut out the 'extras' that most people have taken for granted.
    It's scary to even think about putting prisoners onto the streets because the state can't afford to take care of them. Scary.