Wednesday, May 14, 2008

GED: Just one Small Step to Life After Prison

The article in today's KC Star was upbeat, "GEDs offer hope for life after prison", but short on reality.

A reader commented: "My husband got his GED in Prison it didn't make any difference to most of the people who interviewed him all they see is his record and they don't give him a chance. He finally got hired at the Union which you do have to have a GED for so thankfully there is someone that will give you a chance. The reason there is such a huge return rate to Prison is because people won't give them a chance. My heart goes out to all the inmates that may have a better chance at getting a Job with their GED."

Sadly, that is more the case. Yes, felons can get jobs. Sometimes with a bit of luck and a good background with good connections, it is possible. You are going to have to set your sights lower in some cases. So long management and hello fast food. Many states, and Missouri is one of them, restricts some jobs felons can hold. Often professional licenses are denied. A GED is certainly a start, and I commend these fellows for their work, but reality will show it is hardly the single key to success.

What needs to happen is a lessening of this trend for marking people for life. In this supposedly "Christian" country, forgiveness is in radically short supply. Laws restrict jobs, where some felons can live, deny licenses and schooling. Some individual companies go farther and restrict any felon from getting a job. I thought, maybe naively, that serving time meant paying your debt to society. I guess I am wrong, it is just the first step in the life long process to make one suffer the consequences.

I have no answer, and I do agree 100% that these fellows with their GEDs are one step ahead. But it is a small, and possibly useless step, unless US society changes its views on the employment of felons.

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