Working to Prevent Recidivism

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October 28, 2016

It can’t be that hard to start your life over.  All you have to do is get a job then the rest falls in to place right? If you just work hard and avoid breaking the law again, you should be able to maintain a job and secure a home and all the other things you need to thrive. Then you just live and work and life goes on…

So why is it that 76.6% of people who have been incarcerated are re-incarcerated within 5 years of being released?

I asked one of our re-entering volunteers about his experience with recidivism. After Markus Durazo’s fourth time being released he decided it was going to be his last time and enrolled in a local drug rehabilitation facility hoping for the assistance necessary to re-enter society successfully. He did not receive the help he needed.

He was donated clothes that were way too large to fit him properly. Markus had nothing but determination when he set out on his job search with no direction, no resume, and no clue how he was going to find a job. This man walked the town going in to all of the places people would typically go at their last resort to apply for an entry level position, such as fast food restaurants and clothing stores. After searching for months and being rejected by the most undesirable employers in town he became discouraged, feeling that, if fast food restaurants wouldn’t hire him, no one would.

 He was kicked out of the drug rehabilitation program for failure to gain employment in the given amount of time, putting him right back in the place that lead to his incarceration. Homeless and hungry with no means of survival, Markus made money the way he knew how. He was re-incarcerated for selling narcotics. If given the proper tools and resources, Markus’s chances of successfully re-entering society would have been much greater. If employers were more willing to look beyond a person’s background and criminal history and give some level of hope to these individuals, this may have been Markus’s last trip.

Now Markus is attempting to re-enter society again, only this time, he will be successful because he has a proper support system. His current program, WestCare, is providing the resources and direction needed to start over the right way. With great vocational counselors, Markus is receiving assistance in resume building and direction on where to look for work, as well as other various resources that will help him succeed.

A person with a criminal record can succeed, and even excel in a lucrative career. They just need the opportunity to show employers how hard they can work and direction to employers who are willing to look at the individual rather the individual’s past mistakes. Many companies in the solar construction industry are willing to overlook criminal history, giving people the opportunity to earn a good living based on their work ethic.

I am grateful to be part of an organization that helps people take advantage of that opportunity. GRID is very thankful for the assistance we receive from the volunteers who are re-entering society. Volunteers coming from WestCare are always reliable and work hard on every install they attend. We see how hard they work and how much they want a better life. Working with re-entering people is very important to improving society as a whole. If we open our minds and hearts and give people opportunities to do better, there will be less crime and more productive people in the world.