Abstract As societies Jails become increasingly over populated there seems to be a new question as to why people recommit crime and how to influence the desistance process. For those in the Criminal Justice fields theories on why individuals commit crimes are abundant. Society, biology, genes, and upbringing are all fair game in assessing the why a person commits crimes. Although understanding the etiological reasoning for crime is important, it has now become increasingly important to understand the importance of desistance and curbing criminal behavior.
There are everal links that have been associated as positive correlation with deterring further crime. These include marriage, family and employment. It is easy to give a broad reason to why these factors have such a positive influence on crime, but even more important is the understanding policy implications that research into this topic will create. This paper will begin by examining existing research on the topic of employment and desistance. A survey of local employers will be conducted on employers in the Du Page, IL area to identify hiring processes of convicted criminals.
Lastly if employment is the key to curbing criminal activity why are we turning away droves of quality employees? Introduction Desistance in Criminology is the cessation of criminal or other antisocial behavior. TA this point criminals have already taken a leap into the criminal world. Etiological theories have already been developed into the reason why these individuals have accepted a life of crime. Whether it is Strain, labeling, Social Learning or disorganization.
Although all these theories gives us possible insight on why individuals turn to crime as a society we still need to understand how to successfully urb criminal and anti-social activity. Our corrections model that we currently have has failed in the rehabilitative aspect. It has served as a great method of temporarily removing criminals from the streets but what happens when these convicted labeled individuals are returned to the our streets. Jobless and labeled a criminal by our societies Justice system will most certainly assure a return to criminal enterprise.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 67. 5% of the 300,000 prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within 3 years. There aren’t many institutions that succeed ith a success rate as dismal as that, however we keep churning them out. There are approximately 1 3 prisoners at yearend 2012 According to the United S Department of Justice there are approximately 650,000 ex-offenders released from prison every year. According to the same website it is expected that 433,000 of those will return to Jail, that is 2/3 of the p opulation released.
That is staggering figure that contributes to the overpopulation of our prisons. One of the issues at the center of this dilemma is lack of employment opportunities for recently released convicts. The fact that the there is no such thing as an ex-con in society doesn’t promote smooth reintegration even for those that do intend of becoming productive members of society. Even though these released individuals have, in the eyes of the United States Justice system paid their debt, society is unwilling to assist by denying employment and training opportunities that will make them a viable candidate in the Job market.
We will examine the link between gainful employment and desistance from crime. And how will such a large segment of the population find a Job in an ailing economy. Literature Review Learning new skills, asserting ones free will, and accepting additional responsibilities. The fact that the older we get the less likely we are to engage in risky behavior. Davis Matza referred to this concept as Reform” in his 1964 book delinquency and drift. In this piece of literature he explained hoe delinquency is transient and that adolescent would grow out of there delinquent ways (Matza, 1964).
This theory of delinquency lends to the argument “boys will be boys” John H. Laub and Robert J. Sampson expand on this idea with The Life Course Perspective consists f evaluating causation of change in the desistance of from Crime through social controls that include key elements attributed to aging; a good marriage; securing legal, Stable work; and deciding to “go straight,” including a reorientation of the costs and benefits of crime” According to research conducted by Phoebe Potter “The Hazard ratio for employment is Significant at the . 0 level, suggesting that being employed does positively influence the decision to desist from crime”. In addition the text suggests a %23 percent likelihood that being employed lowers the risk of recidivating. Given the amount of people returning to Jail such studies need to be seriously looked at and action plans develop that seek to enhance employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Drug Use, Work and Desistance Drug use inherently seems to promote criminal activity for those hat use, sell or traffic. Drug use is also another antagonist to getting a Job.
Much like background checks drug testing is common most positions. These drug tests are used Justifiably so to avoid workplace injuries and to minimize turnover associated with attendance issues. Considering that a significant majority of incarcerated adults were active drug sers according to National Institute of Drug Abuse website (NIDA). According to the website a survey conducted in 1997 estimated t O percent ot State and 5 percent of Federal prisoners used drugs regularly prior to incarceration”. (NIDA, 2006).
The fact that drug use is so prevalent within the population committing crime serious attention needs to be paid to instituting drug rehab programs. Abstinence from drugs has a dual effect on individuals. One it facilitates finding a Job and second the chances of re-offending goes down. According to O’Connell’s research for his paper Working Toward Recovery concludes hat drug treatment during the integration phase serves as a therapeutic reintegration that changes the roll of the individual from drug user and criminal to a socially compatible individual. Abstinence from drugs will then cause a departure from the old self and the new self.
This separation will then have positive outcomes on the individuals economic and personnel wellbeing outcomes. (O’Connell, 2007). Allowing individuals to make a cognitive change and be able to correlate positive socially acceptable change, through abstinence from drug use and gainful employment is will contribute to future desistance form crime. It would however be counterproductive to believe that these individuals could do this by themselves. A framework needs to be built that encourages abstinence and gives people the necessary skills to be a productive member of society. Policy Implications.
Understanding the link between that lives events that have a deterring effect on future criminal activity is a significant step in being able to successfully being able to implement policies that promote hiring of this disenfranchised segment of our population. According to Phoebe Potter in her 2011 thesis she suggests certain key spects in the implementation of policies to assist in the re-integration of recently released offenders. Potter suggests that the ban on post-secondary financial assistance be lifted for Felony offenders, employers should have stiffer regulations against the discrimination of individuals with criminal records. Potter, 2011) Combined with lack of training and ever expanding background checks, make finding a Job for the pettiest of criminals a challenging task. Potter adds that there should be more intermediary agencies and re-entry programs to assist in getting ex- offender’s additional opportunities (Potter, 34). Given the amount of people returning to Jail such studies need to be seriously looked at and action plans develop that seek to enhance employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Race meets desistance As a society we are not far removed from days where public areas were segregated and minorities were openly discriminated.
It would be irresponsible and naive to assume that race doesn’t play a role in recidivism, employment opportunities, and ultimate desistance from crime. “According to Ryan Schroeder research has indicated that minorities, primarily African Americans, continue serious violent offending after dolescence at a rate twice as high as whites. ” (Schroeder, 2005 P. 71) When minorities are released from Jail economic opportunities like employment might not be adequately distributed through society. How then are minorities with a double strike on their record; one a conviction on their background and second uneven opportunities due to race.
Methodology In an effort to contribute to some of the previous research on the subject of desistance we will conduct our research. This research will be based on employers hiring practices in the area of Du Page, IL. At the time of hire applicants will be given urveys to establish a baseline of employment characteristics. The employees economic, race, sex, and criminal history will be gauged. Upon determining a baseline of qualified personnel two control groups will be targeted and followed to conduct further research.
Offenders will be grouped into those that received a position and those that didn’t. Salary, and amount of time subject spends at the work. Our findings should be consistent with previous research. Results should see a disproportionate number of non-employable convict’s returning to criminal activity. While those that successfully were able to land a Job should see a more favorable result with desistance numbers. Conclusion Criminology has for the large part had a definite concern in establishing a reason to why individuals embark in criminal activity.
More obscured was the reasoning as two why people continued to offend. Maturation suggests that engaging in risky criminal activity was to an extent a part of growing up. How then are career criminal classified. Our Jails are overflowing at the brim with continuously re-offending aging criminals. The economic problem is undeniable as recidivism continues to be a problem. With a two thirds rate of likelihood to re-offend and be brought back to a state or federal institution a new framework for dealing with out criminal population needs to be developed.
It is inevitable that most of the incarcerated population at some point will again walk our neighborhood streets. Desistance from criminal activity must be the ultimate goal of the release process. Through existing research we have seen the connection with life achievement i. e. marriage, education, military enlistment and employment contribute to the desistance trom criminal activi ty. In order to promote successtul re- ntegration back into the community. Offenders must be given the necessary tools to do so. There is a significant amount of money going into the incarcerating criminals that have been released.
Samson and Laubs’s work on Life-Course theory has laid the ground work in criminology in determining what needs to be done to prevent people from re- offending. “Taking a Job, graduating from high school, entrance into the military, and marriage all represent potentially pivotal periods in a transition. ” (Wright, 2004 p. l). Coming from experience I could attest to how Joining the military and staying ainfully employed has helped me stay out of trouble. Truth be told I was quite the shit-bag before entering military service with United States Marine Corps.
The same application of pivotal life changing and perspective changing opportunities need to be given to the recently released criminal population. Research into Desistance need to be coupled with policy changes. Re-integration programs must be designed to give offender’s the tools to obtain positions. Groups like the safer foundation in Chicago, IL must be given much needed funds to act a conduit between offenders and society. Society as a whole also needs to be willing to accept that these individuals have already paid for their crime.
Background checks need to stop being a discriminating factor in handing out Jobs. An Idol mind is the devils playground is a popular saying that rings very true with our recently released offender population. Sitting at home without social skill, and without a Job will most definitely lead to re-engaging in criminal activity. Society will always need Jails, however these institutions need to also serve a rehabilitative function with the understanding that most criminals will not die in Jail. Money needs to be funneled into programs that keep offenders from returning to Jail.
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