Jonesboro Deserves A Second Chance

April 25, 2019

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Second Chance should not be a joke; all companies should have to have Second Chance programs.

Second Chance was established by Rick Pendery in 1995 and described it as a “non-profit corporation that rehabilitates offenders in the criminal justice system.”

Neighborhood businesses in Jonesboro claim to be in support of felon rehabilitation programs yet refuse to hire specific types of ex-offenders.

John Wilson, a felon since 2015, said, “I was hired by the local company of Nice-Pak, but after a background check, the parent company in New York denied me the position. I was also told at Goodwill that they do not hire felons.”

Goodwill is one of the most well-known felon-friendly businesses in the United States and has been helping ex-offenders dating back to 1902.

When asked if they hire felons, the Jonesboro Goodwill replied, “We used to hire felons, but we recently did away with that program.”

We are not allowing felons to get a decent enough job to take care of their families. Second Chance is a policy on paper but not a reality, and there seems to be an unwritten prejudice in local businesses culminating against ex-cons.

Although roughly 95 percent of state prisoners will be released from prison, more than three-fourths of those inmates (76.6 percent) return to prison within five years, according to a study by the National Institute of Justice.

The saying “nobody’s perfect” has been widely quoted all over the world for generations, yet it remains societally sound to judge those who have made different decisions than us.

Second Chance programs were created to give people the chance to better themselves. Almost all companies run background checks when a felony is present, and it depends on the company as to if they wish to further the process.

It would serve the rehabilitated felon best if companies would adopt a Second Chance program that can be graduated out of when the employee shows diligence, work ethic and integrity.  Many felons are trying to support families and need to make a livable wage.

An estimated 15 dollars an hour per adult is necessary to get a family of four out of poverty in Craighead County, as recorded by Dr. Amy Glasmeier and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2019).

Following the release of a felon, they are often given a list of potential employers in their area. After Wilson received his list, he preceded to apply to the places recommended only to be rejected by more than half of the supposed “Second Chance” businesses that he applied for.

The list given to felons does say that the nature of the crime and sentencing date could be a factor depending on company policies. Phone calls are almost always necessary to determine what businesses will give ex-cons a chance.

Hesitation to a certain extent is expected when hiring potential employees, ex-con or not. A possible solution if a company is concerned could be to have their probation officers approve it and monitor them so they still get the chance to prove themselves.

As members of our local communities, it is our responsibility to demand that all businesses have Second Chance programs and actively consider all people for the job no matter what they did in the past. Second Chance should be just that, a second chance.

Currently only certain types of felons are hired depending on the opinion of the businesses, but all felons deserve a second chance to start over. We are all more than our pasts.

Sources:

https://www.bjs.gov/content/reentry/reentry.cfm

Programs For Convicted Felons – Why enter a program?

https://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/Pages/welcome.aspx

http://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/05031

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