The “F” Word: Felon
No, it is not that F word. It is the F word – Felon. The constant use of this F word, felon, to describe a former incarcerated individual reduces his or her chance for a successful re-entry into society. Last week, I looked at ads for house rentals. I noticed an owner’s exclusions for potential tenants. The ad indicated no smokers, no pet owners, and no felons. The collateral damage from a felony conviction has always been extensive. Ex-offenders are now the untouchables of American society. You may have successfully completed your prison sentence without any violations and obtained an education in prison, but you are forever branded a felon. This American caste is not only defined by the loss of the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, but this sub-class is chained to a lower economic strata– unemployable. The many obstacles to a successful re-entry for a former inmate has included the inability to rent a home, the loss of the right to vote, and not finding employment.
Over five million Americans are disenfranchised from voting even if the former inmates are again productive members of society, who pay taxes. Several states do not restore the right to vote to ex-offenders upon completion of their prison sentence. Nineteen states allow former inmates the right to vote only upon completion of their sentence. Thirteen states allow probationers and parolees the right to vote. You can view the infographic from 2012 losing the right to vote.
Many felons are unable to obtain employment. Employers are hesitant to hire a convicted felon and cannot move beyond the felon’s record. Many job interviewer’s expressions have ranged from skepticism to being very uncomfortable and numerous times to hostility.
Americans have always complained about the high recidivism rate in the United States. This American crisis will continue until the many obstacles confronting re-entry are eliminated. After completing their prison time, felons should have their right to vote fully restored. Employers should not be able to discriminate against individuals who have records without a reasonable basis for the decision, such as the prior charge was related to the prospective employment. The federal, state,and local governments need to implement effective programs that will create jobs for these individuals in order to achieve successful re-entries. At the end of the day, society needs to treat former inmates as returning citizens and not as felons.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com
In theory, our society wants justice: to punish offenders, rehabilitate them, and encourage them to keep out of trouble once released. So often I’ve seen parole or probation requirements that the recently-released individual get a job. Without lying, how is the “felon” going to accomplish that? In today’s economy, with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of applicants for any open position, it’s hard for anyone to get a job. Who will take a chance on the F-jobseeker? Without governmental intervention (tax breaks for hiring recently-released individuals, funding for businesses who hire them, or government jobs to help re-entry), it’s unlikely that… Read more »
By Helen–Bradley, is this fair. No! But I wouldn’t want to be where I wasn’t wanted anyway. When
I was a young child, my mother searched for an apartment that would accept children. She finally found a place.
By Christopher–I deal with this all the time. Not much I can do about it other than hope those excluding me die soon.
The problem isn’t going to go away any time soon. A better solution in my opinion and scriptural is to get the recidivism rate down by introducing a new way of life into those paroled or who have completed their sentence. The Lord will meet their needs and the understanding that the worlds ways will not forget is just an attack of the enemy who has no right to power if we come against him in the blood of Jesus. Programs are in place to help, Genesis One and VACATE. Programs that cause felons to lean on Jesus and know… Read more »
BY Martine, from LinkedIn– What strikes me the most is that it implies that person IS a felon when in reality the person COMMITTED a felony. It might sound unrelated but it is similar what is done in France to pupils in primary schools when they start having difficulties in one subject (in particular in maths, the kinds of subjects in this country): the pupil is called a dunce by teachers (or they give him more than hints that he is, eg by making him stay back in the same class whilst the other move on to the next) and… Read more »
There are many times, too many to quote, in which the prosecutor makes a plea agreement changing a charge from a felony to a misdemeanor simply to get a so called ‘win’. In those instances we have a true felon walking the street. The prosecutor has a guilty plea and the person goes without a permanent mark against their name. With 95% of cases ending with a plea agreement, we as a society don’t accurately know who is a felon and who is not. A person who pays his/her debt to society and serves his sentence should be released to… Read more »
By Gail, from LinkedIn,–The problem isn’t going to go away any time soon. A better solution in my opinion and scriptural is to get the recidivism rate down by introducing a new way of life into those paroled or who have completed their sentence. The Lord will meet their needs and the understanding that the worlds ways will not forget is just an attack of the enemy who has no right to power if we come against him in the blood of Jesus. Programs are in place to help, Genesis One and VACATE. Programs that cause felons to learn and… Read more »
By Gail,comment from LinkedIn,-A lady hear in OK recently got released, having no car she prayed, walked down the road about three or four blocks, this is a town of 900-1000, walked into a place of business, got hired on and had the keys to open in the mornings all with in a week. She purchased a car and knows full well who meets her needs. Thank You LORD
What strikes me the most is that it implies that person IS a felon when in reality the person COMMITTED a felony. It might sound unrelated but it is similar what is done in France to puples in primary schools when they start having difficulties in one subject (in particular in maths, the kinds of subjects in this country): the puple is called a dunce by teachers (or they give him more than hints that he is, eg by making him stay back in the same class whilst the other move on to the next) and as label studies have… Read more »
Gail, That is an amazing report of the goodness and provenance of God!. That is a problem that God has made me aware of and really laid on my heart over the past few years. Prison Ministry isn’t just in the prison system, but needs to extend outside the prison walls to help an inmate become re-integrated with society upon being released.
That is the main reason why so many people return to prison after being released, is because there’s no other place for them to go.
By James McIntire, comment from LinkedIn
I would also add that if there’s going to be any change at all in peoples’ perception, it cannot come from the government level. It must come from private and faith based organizations. I do see what you’re saying, Marybeth, about changes in laws. However I would say what’s more needed is a change in people’s attitudes and their mental perception towards the formerly incarcerated. That’s not going to come about because the “law says so…” Americans need to see more examples of people like our friend Reverend John, as well as other men and women who have come out… Read more »
By Rev.John,comment from LinkedIn,I am an ex-con and ex- heroin addict. I personally think it is unfair to say that felons end up back in prison for the same things that got them there. Nobody dreams of being a hopeless junkie as a kid. Most people who are incarcerated are there because of addiction. What role does ones environment play? I broke through societies definition of me. Although, I am a licensed minister, college graduate ( now in the M.Div program), active in prison / jail ministry and hold a full time job at a local university, I still bear… Read more »
By Rev. John, comment from LinkedIn, Hi Willie, Thanks for your kind words. I have not heard of that program. I am from the Southwest. Sounds like an awesome program. As to your question, I do not know how to get past the stigma. It involves changing peoples perceptions. I believe we have progressed but there is still a great need in this area. I think it is important for people, like myself, who have made the transition into productive members of society to be proactive. We should not forget where we came from and help those that are still… Read more »
I agree with you 100%,but don’t know how to do anything about it.
By Art–Labeling is a dynamic factor, with all, but especially youngsters.
I read this article a few weeks ago but the reality of it was brought home for me these past few days- the F word: Today I was turned down for the second time in three days at rental properties because I have a felony record. Although, I have been clean for many years, graduated with my bachelors degree, I am involved in giving back to the community, hold a full time job, pursing a MA degree and I am a licensed minister– I am still turned down because I have felonies on my record. I will be fine but… Read more »
There are so many bad renters out there I’m not surprised any one is turned down and even if you know it’s a poor renter the land lord needs the PC answer to avoid law suits. Being a “felon” is one of them.
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