September 23, 2015

Education for Life After Incarceration000001secondchancebutton-smaller_0

by Elizabeth Renter 9/29/2015

When you’re released from prison, there are many challenges. Finding a job is at the top of that list.

With employment inextricably tied to recidivism, placing formerly-incarcerated in viable positions is something that doesn’t only benefit those getting out of prison, but entire communities. Still, it’s not easy. 

A recent commentary in The Crime Report looks at how education both behind bars and post-release can increase the odds of finding work after a stint in prison. 

“As soon as they see my record, I don’t get the job,” said Davidson, 50, of Eureka, Calif. She served her time in Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, Calif.

“I’m working to get the felony removed. And I’m taking some online courses in IT, networking, doing repairs and basic troubleshooting. On top of trying to clear my record, I’ve got to have these skills.”

Changing a potential employer’s view on formerly-incarcerated people is a far more daunting task than increasing your own employment skills. But getting those skills requires both opportunities and the determination to see them through. 

Those opportunities may come within the prison system, depending on funding and quality, but they are more likely to come post-release, in the community. 

There is support to end a ban on Pell Grants for felons, the money that low-income Americans can use to pay for secondary education. Beyond that, there are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), or classes from colleges and individuals offered for free through websites like Coursera, Udacity and EdX. And there are programs within the community, like Community Success Initiatives, that works to find local opportunities and job training programs to people in the Raleigh-Durham area. 

Finding the tools and resources to create success after being a captive of the state can be difficult, but those resources are crucial to your independence. 

To read the compelling report from The Crime Report, click here

To learn more about how Community Success Initivatives is helping, click here.