EditorialEDITORIAL: Give convicted people a second chance

ETC StaffDecember 12, 2018964 min

Incarceration of criminals has long been described as a way to rehabilitate them.

Although sentencing varies depending on the crime, all convicts are faced with alienation and a lack of opportunities to integrate themselves back into society.

Obtaining a job, for a person who’s served their time, is difficult. Government jobs are mostly closed to criminals, according to Adzuna.com. In addition, any type of physical or domestic abuse convictions disqualifies a person for any job with the medical field.

Any kind of crime regarding theft or embezzlement disqualifies a person from jobs in the financial industry such as banks or casinos. Finances are part of many 9-to-5 jobs.

Sex crimes bar any person from working with minors in order to protect children from possibly harmful adults.

These three job fields are major pathways to redemption. Except for sex crimes, society should look at patterns of behaviour in criminals instead of singular instances that could have been lapses in judgment.

Most employers willing to hire convicted people, apparently, are in the restaurant and bar industries.

For people in these industries, their income is predominantly tips. Tip-based jobs are great for college students or single lifestyles but many ex-convicts have families that require a stable dependable income to survive.

Recidivism occurs for many reasons, according to provincial government statistics. They include anti-social attitudes, personality and peers, family issues, education and employment, lack of pro-social leisure activities and substance abuse. Correctional Service of Canada studies show about a third of the people on some sort of release program end up back in the system.

When offenders can’t afford to pay their bills, they often turn back towards criminal ways to earn money such as selling drugs or sex work

This causes people to be trapped in a cycle — the infamous revolving door of justice — where they must commit crimes to feed their families or themselves, but committing those crimes bars them from ethical job positions with livable wages.

If the court system is made for rehabilitation, vastly limiting a convict’s potential job field is counterintuitive to the process.

However, the solution isn’t disregarding criminal records completely, but look for a pattern of behaviour of criminality before considering a person incorrigible.