Prison Perpetuates Poverty

There are two ways in which prison perpetuates poverty of individuals: it creates a barrier to earning a living wage, and the fees themselves have the potential to place an inmate in poverty.

Far too often, when inmates receive parole or are fully released back into the community, it is almost impossible for them to find a job. Most applications for jobs include a place to indicate whether or not you have been convicted of a felony. Employers tend to be wary of individuals who have a record. It is common for an individual’s application to be discarded based on that one box. As a result, ex-convicts struggle to get a job and make money. Thus, they are forced back into poverty, where they are far more likely to commit a crime.

“There’s an effort called ‘Ban the Box’, and just last week our president on NBC news gave further clarity on why he promotes BTB. Because usually when you promote BTB to a group of people who cannot relate to people being incarcerated, they get quite fearful. We don’t want people not going through the process if they’re looking for jobs. But the president stated- and I think he was talking to Brian R. Lee- but he said “even though we’re suggesting that people remove that box that asks the question ‘do you have a criminal background- have you been convicted of a felony?’- By removing that box, it gives the employer the opportunity to fairly, objectively look at a potential candidate for employment. Too often when that box is there and checked yes, that application goes to file 13, and so what the president said last week- and I was late getting to a meeting to hear the full interview- of course the employer has to do his or her due-diligence upon interviewing the applicant, but at least you can give them a fair shot by following through if you have interest with that person, and it’s your responsibility to look into their .” -Gyna Bivens

Additionally, there are fees, fines and charges that come with being in prison. These can add up very quickly while an individual is incarcerated, not making any money. When the incarcerated person gets out, they do not have the money to pay the fines and go into debt.

If we as a country do not make a greater effort in rehabilitating our inmates, they will continue to spiral between poverty and prison and we as a country will be to blame for recidivism of individuals.