Week 4 Blog Post

Most of us are familiar with the background questions associated with completing a job application. It asks if one has been or is currently being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. After asking for details of the incident, it goes on to say that by answering yes to this question does not automatically disqualify the candidate for the position. However, many find that by answering yes to the question, their applications are not considered for employment.
The structural violence individuals must face prior to conviction only worsens after they are released. Being labeled an ex-con in the United States is not honorable. Convicts released from prison often find it difficult to reintegrate into the workforce. Employers choose candidates that qualify for positions with clean backgrounds or petty misdemeanors. Ex-convicts are then left with the options of seeking employment illegally, restarting the cycle that led them to incarcerations, or accepting jobs that pay minimum wage which increases the desire for money, again leading to illegal means of income or earning another minimum wage paying job. Some inmates find employment through temp-services. Temporary Employment agencies contract with companies in need of temporary workers, however, work is only guaranteed while the company needs help although permanent employment can be granted.
The structural violence that physically hinders convicts from reentering the workforce is matched by the structural violence that excludes them mentally. While incarcerated, inmates are trained to feel less human. They are told how and when to do everything. They are not taught to survive in a work environment. Post incarceration, aside from the struggle of finding employment, they are stripped of rights granted to all American people. For instance, felons are not allowed to vote or carry firearms. Depending on their crime and the nature of it, some are not allowed to coexist with certain individuals without threats of being detained again. In order to help ex-cons transition into society after being incarcerated, we must first address laws that systematically oppress convicted felons.


2 thoughts on “Week 4 Blog Post

  1. Response 4a
    I agree with your post that there is structural violence towards people trying to gain employment while holding criminal records in the United States. People trying to get jobs with criminal records are not the only ones effected by this structural violence. People holding a criminal record in the United States are also subjected to structural violence through policing and court rooms. The first thing a police officer does in the U.S. when making any stop is run a background check on the person they are stopping. People who have records are more likely to be searched or ticketed then people with clean records. This biased policing of people with heavier criminal backgrounds in hopes of the police making a bigger bust leads to large amounts of small fines for people with criminal backgrounds. As you stated above this lack of ability to escape the past, even after time was served, makes it very hard for the person to re-integrate fully into society.
    To stop this structural violence I think the U.S. needs to reconsider the way we record and utilize criminal records. This structural violence would decrease immensely if the U.S. focused primarily on criminal records of violent and dangerous individuals that could harm society, as well as, give people holding a criminal record, a chance to remove the record with the showing of good behavior. This would create fair opportunities for people who have served their time, and paid their dues to society for wrongful acts in the past, while still preserving the safety measures that criminal records provide to employers and police officers.

  2. Someone in my immediate family is a convicted felon due to non-violent drug crimes. Fortunately she lives in a small town where most businesses do not perform background checks. It is scary though, how if the business found out she would probably be fired. Despite how it is illegal to not hire people because they have felony charges, I do not believe it is enforced whatsoever. Another issue is that despite crime going down, incarceration rates are still rising. The United States needs to seriously reform how the government handles public and private prisons, and get rid of the ‘get tough’ policy’.

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