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.