One of the major issues in criminal justice reform – if not THE major issue – is prisoner re-entry, that is, the entry of the justice-involved individual back into society as a contributing citizen. It sounds like a joke right now because we have been trained to believe in the revolving door. Cam Ward, a Senator from Alabama (R-Alabaster), sees it differently. He is sponsoring a bill that would remove more than 700 sections of code from the Alabama constitution that restricts jobs that people can get after being released from prison.
“The whole idea when someone gets out of prison- we want them to get a job,” Ward said. “We want them to pay taxes. We want them to be productive citizens and not a public safety risk.”
Basically, it addresses the question: How can a person freed from prison become a contributing member of society if the law bars him from getting a job? Currently, a justice-involved individual is discouraged from getting the training he needs to get a job – even reading and writing.
Said Fredrick Sherill who was released from prison this past September after 15 years for armed robbery as a teenager, “It’s hard when you being released from prison after doing a lot of time and you’re trying to do the right thing in society and being a law abiding citizen and there’s constant road blocks.”
As you read my articles, there has been a lot of talk, but there have also been real-life situations that prove the point. It is important that we go on to the next step which is to implement new laws that will help the person coming out of prison. It will take a few years to see significant results, but this is where it starts.