It is estimated that over 700,000 prisoners are released from the United States prison system each year. These offenders face criminal records that will keep them from certain jobs and even from certain living situations. Many of the released inmates will need to check in with probation departments or other court officials depending on their case or felony.
With scheduled check-ins, appointments and various forms of criminal record issues the concept of getting a job may seem bleak. In fact, with a failing economy and job market it is hard for someone without a criminal record to obtain a job. The answer to this issue has been difficult for many officials who are trying to help released prisoners find work. The new answer has been a program called transitional jobs.
What Are Transitional Jobs
Transitional Jobs are set up through the state and are part of a release program for certain eligible prisoners. These jobs are generally related to jobs within the prison system that prisoners have already been doing for years. For example, some prison systems will allow certain job based programs like construction, car repair, cosmetology and other trade based programs. The prison system officials will work with companies on the outside of the prison system to help find jobs for prisoners as they transition into the public.
Types of Transitional Jobs
The types of transitional jobs vary depending on the state and the programs available. Most of the jobs available are trade based jobs. These jobs, as previously mentioned, are jobs that fall into trade based categories. Though most of the jobs are construction related there are other jobs opening up such as trucking and auto repair. The jobs truly depend on the businesses in the area and their willingness to work with various prison systems.
Issues with the Program
There have been several issues in the past related to the program. These issues have sparked controversy and brought up questions related to the programs longevity and safety in several states. The issues range from unruly employees on the job, stealing, fighting and threats of violence. The fact of the matter is that many employers feel the transitional job program is dangerous to their employees who do not have criminal records. Several employers have been quoted as stating the employees coming from transitional prison programs may know how to do the job, but the attitude they present on the job is not socially acceptable.
Fixing the Issues
In response to several on the job issues, such as assaults and violent outbursts on the job, agencies have begun steps to fixing the issues. One of the steps is to ensure that violent offenders are removed from the eligibility list of the programs. Prisoners who have violent histories with their criminal record or within the prison system will not be eligible. Prisoners with anger management issues will be eligible only after certain program criteria has been met. Prisoners with histories of theft or fraud will only be considered for certain jobs and may be asked to meet other guidelines that others may not.
The transitional jobs program is designed to help offenders re-enter society, find work and be successful outside the prison system. For some inmates this will be the silver lining they need to stay out of prison and provide for themselves on the outside. There are inherit problems with any program the deals with offenders, but with the proper steps this program could be a successful endeavor around the country.