Is Prison Adequate Housing?

prison streetphoto © 2008 Raffi Asdourian | more info(via: Wylio)Several communities are realizing the difficulty many ex-offenders have with keeping in line with their parole restrictions.  Most parole agreements rest on the ability of parole officers to be able to find and contact parolees.  Sex-offenders have additional restrictions on how close they can be to schools or other locations that children may gather.   What some don’t realize is that these parole restrictions, combined with the difficulty in finding an employer willing to hire an ex-offender, make it very difficult for people who have served their time to find housing and be productive members of the community.

An editorial from the LA Times notes that homeless ex-offenders are much harder to track.  The author also contends that by not providing adequate housing, laws like Jessica’s Law, that are meant to protect the community from sexual offenders, might actually harm the community, and could be deemed unconstitutional.

In fact, an appeals court in Alabama ruled last week that a homeless ex-offender was “punished for being homeless.”  The State law that requires that sex-offenders register an address before leaving prison can now not be applied to someone who is homeless and does not have the means to find housing.  The prisoner in the original case had no family or other housing waiting for him after serving his sentence, so he was arrested immediately after being released, just for being homeless.

Many ex-offenders end up in the shelter system, but this often causes more problems for both the criminal justice and social service systems.  So should the justice system provide housing for inmates who have served their time but cannot find meet parole guidelines?

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3 Responses to Is Prison Adequate Housing?

  1. Michael Korn says:

    There’s that old saw that goes ‘do the crime, do the time.’ But what happens after you make restitution to the community. Should it be ‘you’ve done the time, now out on your behind.’ In a just society, assuming for the moment that there is a possiblility of true justice in this society, we would try to minimize the chances of anyone going back to a life of crime and further incarceration. Therefore, housing and jobs are the basic requirements in keeping folks from recidivism. We must demand job training with a guarantee of employment upon successful completion of a course and more transitional housing so people can become stably housed sooner and start contributing as working members of society. On the other hand, is it just simpler to keep people hopeless, leave them without choices and then when they go back to old behaviors and finally get rearrested we can just keep feeding them into our ‘prison industrial complex.’ A very vicious circle indeed. The choices are ours to make, therefore we should choose wisely.

  2. I’m just an ex con trying to go straight and get my kids back.

  3. We are ex-cons and the rules for our survival are written in a different paper under different norms and different scopes. We are treated as we were nature’s scum. We are not trustworthy and we do not deserve another opportunity to gain a respectful way of living. Studies show that a high percentage of released inmates will go back behind bars in a period of three years or less. High unemployment rates and lack of opportunities might take us back to an environment that up to a certain point is secure and our survival is guaranteed.
    Three meals a day, housing, bedding, toiletries and even a job are perks of being behind bars. For some individuals that is a lot more of what they are able to get on their own while on the streets. Is it because we are not capable of earning our own living when on the streets? Is it because we just like to live under the care of Correctional Officer that gets to back to his family every night? I personally don’t think so; it is a matter of learning the rules of the new game that we are forced to play which is called “former inmate”
    There are many ex-cons that are not criminals; don’t get me wrong, many of them are. Most of us are not criminals but simply committed a criminal act in the past. How do we prove the world that we are over it? What is the path that I have to follow so I don’t walk again to the wide door into I was pushed for a few or even many years? It all goes back to the rules. It all goes back as of how we play the game of freedom in which we have to make in order to get our three meals a day, housing, bedding, toiletries and a job.

    Carlos Osorio, Ex-convict, Author and Intensive Supervision Program Graduate. Mr. Osorio has successfully assisted program members with job search solutions and has given speeches to local ex-offenders. Questions or comments to cosorio@lj-solutions.com

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