Many prisons and jails do not prepare ex-inmates to return to the outside world. In order for a returning citizen not to become another statistic in our recidivism rate, he or she will need a job. The majority of prisons, jails, and even local re-entry programs do not provide the former inmate the basic skills for finding employment including how to interview for a job. From my personal prison experience, another inmate, a successful businessman, and I had prepared a basic re-entry job program for inmates at our pre-release center which included, “How to interview for a job.” Although the program and its written material received excellent feedback from the prison administration, it died a slow administrative death. The program was never approved, despite a number of young inmates eagerly signing up for it.
A job interview is stressful under even normal circumstances. If the job interviewee is a former inmate, the pressure increases a hundredfold.
In order to give the returning citizen, the means to achieve a successful job interview, our proposed program reviewed the usual issues such as dress, posture, job application and other crucial elements of a job interview. We did not avoid the elephant in the room. The job applicant has a criminal record. The former inmate cannot avoid facing the facts of the past. It is important for the returning citizen to make clear he or she has regretted and taken responsibility for any past actions. However, the applicant can point to a good prison record, certificates for successful education programs, and a good job record during imprisonment. It can only help that a returning citizen has supervised a kitchen staff or custodial crew for five years.
In other words, the former inmate (now a returning citizen) should accept the lemons and make lemonade. It does not mean that a former inmate will succeed in that particular job interview, but the returning citizen will increase the chances of a successful job interview down the long road of re-entering society.