Bryant Jackson-Green — The Debt Never Paid: How Reentry Reform Can Fix a Broken Criminal-Justice System
This report discusses some of the barriers to employment former offenders face, and outlines policy changes to address them.
Bryant Jackson-Green is the criminal justice policy analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute. His research primarily focuses on criminal justice reform and regulatory policy.
(Illinois Policy Institute) Illinois’ criminal-justice system should hold offenders accountable for their crimes. This happens through a loss of freedom during a prison sentence, probation and mandatory supervised release. But the criminal-justice system must also focus on helping offenders become self-sufficient, productive community members, so they do not continue to cycle in and out of the corrections system. The Illinois Constitution states, “All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”1 When someone commits a crime, he or she should expect to suffer the consequences. But that person should also be expected to find employment, support his or her family, and become a responsible taxpayer after paying his or her debt to society.
Right now, public policy undermines this goal. In fact, Illinois’ criminal-justice system continues to punish former offenders well after they’ve served their sentences – making them struggle to find work, reliant on welfare, and unable to build stable futures for their families. Former offenders face barriers in the form of occupational-licensing restrictions, loss of work skills during incarceration, and concerns of employers who may be reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal record – even when an ex-offender has reformed and would be a good fit for the job. Read the full articleHERE.