Prison In America: A History of Change and Rehabilitation
Prisons in America hold a rich and storied history, often influenced by race in determining who goes to jail and how low they are incarcerated.. The complexion of jail populations began shifting as Black people gained more rights during the 1940s, 50s, and 1960s when the numbers went up exponentially and have not stopped since as newly empowered citizens began integrating into places denied to them before. From 1926 to 1986, the recorded black percentage among admissions to State and Federal prisons more than doubled from 21% in 1926 to 44% in 1986. By the 1970s, despite constituting only 11% of the population, Black individuals accounted for over 46% of all inmates nationwide. Early prisons tried rehabilitating inmates with skills to use when released, introducing numerous programs in the 1930s to impart skills that could reduce recidivism. While educational programs were part of this initiative, they proved less profitable than prison labor for many politicians who leased inmates to the State for manual labor. This practice was as corrupt as the crimes that put many inmates in prison, but when you have connections, and everybody involved gets their cut then it’s acceptable to otherwise ethical men. We at jobcareercritic.com can appreciate the plight of newly released former inmates and encourage them to try some of our Employers who will hire rehabilitated individuals and give them that second chance.
The decline of rehabilitation programs in American prisons can be traced back to the Crime Bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Despite his reservations, President Clinton’s political acumen allowed him to navigate a landscape unfavorable to him and secure a second term by out-wittingly maneuvering Republicans on the issue of crime, which was gripping the nation then. Regrettably, this decision remains a blemish on his reputation as a champion for the rights of people of color, who had historically suffered from policies hindering integration into education and careers which would have led to better economic futures and put on display what happens through diligent work and sacrifice. Over time, pressure from shortsighted conservative politicians opposed to allocating taxpayer funds to criminals—particularly when the prison population was over 70% people of color—led to the demise of programs designed to impact recidivism. Consequently, recidivism rates escalated, and the U.S. now grapples with a staggering prison population of two million. Much can be inferred from profits made from keeping prisons populated because they serve a higher, more devious purpose for eliminating millions of Black voters in a state of diminished disarray and labeling felons for the rest of their lives destined to live a life of recidivism and providing profitable digits on the New York Stock Exchange where stocks in prisons are traded.
Emerging Light Through Education: IT Training in Prisons
Recently, I encountered a program spotlighting MIT’s initiative to dispatch PhDs to East Coast prisons, teaching inmates coding skills. This program, Brave Behind Bars, empowers incarcerated individuals with coding and programming knowledge, enabling them to craft websites and pursue various IT careers. Originally launched in 2020 within a women’s facility, the program has since expanded to four East Coast prisons. Martin Nisser, a program co-founder and a Ph.D. candidate from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), underscores the program’s digital literacy and self-efficacy-focused objectives. Nisser explains that many women had been without computer access for up to 25 years and were unfamiliar with the internet. The program seeks to equip them with modern tools, bridging the technological gap to prepare them for their reentry into society. This holds true even for more recently incarcerated students, who struggle to keep pace with rapid technological advancements due to the scarcity of technical programs within correctional facilities.
Navigating the Modern Landscape: The Role of IT Skills
The Brave Behind Bars initiative arrives at a critical juncture when computer proficiency is often a prerequisite for many low-paying jobs. Without these skills, individuals can easily revert to a path leading to recidivism. Impressively, this program has already managed to reduce recidivism by 40% among its participants. Expanding its reach to more prisons could significantly impact crime rates and alleviate the burden on taxpayers, who should shoulder the cost of housing and incarcerate two million individuals at an average annual cost of $36,000 per person, which equals 72 billion dollars per year.
As these rehabilitated individuals reintegrate into society, I hope many turn to platforms like Job Career Critic (jobcareercritic.com) to seek IT jobs. Numerous companies are open to offering second chances to applicants who have honed their IT skills. This bridge between skill development and employment could pave the way for bright individuals to fit back into society and succeed in their newly learned skills. Here’s to successful job hunting for these resilient newly released persons seeking a fresh start.