Have you ever wondered why it is that people who are released from prison return back to prison?

This is an unfortunate question that I would ask myself due to some  stories of people within my community.  Time and time again, I have seen family members and friends, who have returned home from prison start off well but then find themselves convicted of yet another criminal offense.  This has become an epidemic and it’s kind of sad. We must address the root issue and look at the underlying cause and effect of a revolving penal systems. Through the understanding of repeat offenses and addressing challenges associated with putting people with criminal records on a path to prosperity requires a three-way conversation between business leaders, workforce development professionals and government officials.smart-on-crime-1

On October 4th, I had the opportunity to attend the “Smart on Crime Luncheon” hosted by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office-Eastern District held at Wayne State University and there was a lot of talk about creating jobs for Returning Citizen.  In Michigan alone, over 10,000 individuals return from prison a week equivalent to 75 individuals an hour. It was also shared that of the 95% of people that will return to their communities, two-third of formerly incarcerated individuals are rearrested within three years and one-half return to prison, either for violation of parole or for committing new crimes.  This occurrence is known as recidivism, which occurs when the transition from prison or jail back to the community is unsuccessful. For those who have left a corrections facility having served their debt to society, trying to find a job that will allow them to provide for families without committing another crime is all-important.

Employment is a significant factor in reducing re-offending.  Research has found that two years after release, nearly twice as many employed people with records had avoided another brush with the law than their unemployed counterparts. I’ve learned that the perception of ex-offenders are changing.

For example, many Metro Detroit employer and workforce agencies from manufacturing to retailers, from hospitality to the skilled traders, are finding out that the skilled labor are looking for is available to them. I am happy to now know that places like Detroit Employment Solutions works with dozens of employers in the metro area to recruit, screen and prepare returning citizens for potential employers.