Saturday, December 8, 2012

Beyond Hope

By Jeff C.

 Money, of course, is never just money. It's always something else, and it's always something more, and it always has the last word."
Paul Auster, "Hand to Mouth"

"MY MONEY'S NOT good enough." "I can't even give my money away." "Am I seriously that undesirable--that worthless--that...contaminated?"

These were my thoughts as I stood there in my boxers, my morning routine halted by my DOC Quarterly Statement. It was the $20.12 that had been deposited on my account that confused me. That returned money not only interrupted my morning shuffle, it skewed my expectations for the next few years. And beyond.

That Quarterly Statement showed not only that intentional amount, but also where the money came from. Last summer, I worked myself up to doing one of those extremely rare acts, for me, of pleading with one of "my people" to do some internet research for me that I was, obviously, incapable of doing for myself.

It's unusual that I ask for these sorts of things--mainly because I don't ever want to be a sigh-worthy burden or oh-so annoying to the people in my life (more so, of course, than my presence in prison already prescribes). I don't want them to get an email or letter from me and immediately wonder what I want THIS time. But this bit of research was, I hoped, easy; and certainly it was important to me. I had asked for the physical address for President Obama's re-election campaign.

So when I saw OBAMA FOR AMERICA on my Quarterly Statement, some nine months after I'd sent a week's pay to help pay for, at best, one one-thousandth of one of those oh-so annoying political commercials, I was, well, let down.

Maybe I shouldn't have been let down by my inability to donate my own money to a president who I didn't get to vote for. Especially considering that, as of this summer, I have (as the prison vernacular so very aptly terms it) "been down" for 16 years and very little should surprise me at this point, even the audacity of nope.

"You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better."
Yann Martel, "The Life of Pi"

"As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?"
Boss Tweed

WE HAD WON. About 2.5 years ago when I read that we prisoners in Washington State had won a lawsuit (Farrakhan, et al. v. [Washington State Governor] Gregoire), which meant we were going to get the right to vote back, why, I was giddy with glee. (As were the state Representatives who showed up to our college graduation to ask to be remembered for their support once our right to vote was "official" and we would, in some way, matter again.)

This was not the right to vote that can (sometimes) be restored when we each get out and IF we each, individually, go and politely petition the court. Instead, Washington was to join Vermont and Maine as the only states where prisoners can vote while in prison. [Endnote _/1; all citation endnotes are located at the end of this essay.]

This subject has been important to me since I became aware of it, but especially so ever since I worked for a privately-owned business, while in prison, that paid (slightly) above minimum wage. And you better believe I paid my federal income taxes, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax (and, of course, all prisoners pay state sales tax on our hygiene and junk-food items and all the rest). But that whole tea-dunking Bostonian phrase of "No Taxation Without Representation" takes on more than a historical sepia-toned tinge when it is your everyday institutional drab-colored reality.

I find it three-fifths interesting that "though removed from our official indicators, prison inmates are counted in local population estimates," says professor Devah Pager, in her book, "Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration." She goes on to explain that counties with "imported prison inmates ... benefit substantially from the reported population growth, becoming eligible for increases in certain federal financial aid and in the apportionment of political representation, each allocated on the basis of population counts."_/2]

Apparently it's not mo' money, mo' problems, but mo' prisoners, mo' money.

So I was ecstatic 2.5 years ago when I heard that this state's constitutional right to vote was to be restored to incarcerated felons. But then--a few bureaucratic beats later--I heard that Washington's Attorney General could've appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court...but instead asked the 9th Circuit to review the case on banc (meaning a 17-judge panel would review the case)._/3]

And, of course, the 9th Circuit judges were all like, "Nuh-uh" to the very idea of us prisoners voting while in prison. However, when I found this out 18 months ago, obviously fully disappointed, I didn't cringe up in calcified crimson cynicism against the "sorry system." Instead I did that all-American thing of letting my money do the talking for me. Or at least I tried to.

In the cover letter that accompanied my donation to OBAMA FOR AMERICA, I tried to be cute and clever, oh-so casually working in how this was my way of contributing even though I am disenfranchised. I admitted that it wasn't much money, but I empathized with OBAMA FOR AMERICA--especially because of the monumental money machines that would be mobilized against "us" as a direct result of the "Citizens United v. FEC" Supreme Court case (written by the mealy-mouthed but oh-so honorable Anthony Kennedy._/4]

I was so strutting-proud of this letter that I presented a copy of it and my DOC Request-To-Transfer-Funds receipt to a couple of my friends last year, uncasually bragging about my "cool contribution." To which I was overwhelmed by claims that all I had done was bought myself a lifetime supply of political mailing-list solicitations for more of my money. But I shrugged off such attacks as mere jealousy of my actual participation in the process. I didn't even try to justify myself. I knew that I simply wanted to be symbolically helpful. Well, my symbol is apparently not appreciated by the Chicagoan political powers that be.

What's funny (perhaps only to me) is that even though I never got any sort of explanatory form letter from them as to why they couldn't possibly take my money, I could easily pen such a PC kiss-off letter for them. I'm politically savvy enough to understand the rules that restrict the very idea of people like moi contributing to their, um, unpurchased success. And I don't even blame them for it. Nor do I really care to condemn the system for their overreactionaryism.

Actually, I am among the first to see where politically correct bloatedness begins--usually from well-meaning ideas about fixing a perceived wrong. But it's also funny (again, perhaps only to me) that I almost mailed OBAMA FOR AMERICA my portrait of Obama that I had proudly painted, thinking they could auction it off for far more than 2012 pennies. Returning that larger-than-life-sized painting, though, would've cost them more than one stamp, so at least I didn't cost them any money and in any way have the Dems associated with a deficit.

"Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal."
Elizabeth Fry (British prison reformer [1780-1845])

"[I]t is often better to be in chains than to be free."
Franz Kafka, "The Trial" (translated by David Wyllie)

MY NEWLY SKEWED expectations for the future are about more than not being able to donate to the Dems or being denied a political voice, of course. (Though there's a strong and valid debate about the 5.8 million felons prevented from voting in America which is already in progress and can be joined in many ways/places--for example a recent report by "The Guardian" discusses just this and can be read here.)

For me it isn't some peacock-proud "look what I can do" symbolic contribution. It's the larger issue of just what in the (free)world I'm going to face in less than 2.5 years when I get out after doing 18.5 years in prison.

Hey, I'm happy to "do my time" for the crime I committed (well, maybe not exactly gleeful with giddiness, but certainly at this point resigned and resolute). But when, exactly does it end? And where? And how?

Civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander gets to the heart of this issue, declaring, "When someone is convicted of a crime today, their 'debt to society' is never paid."_/5]

For me the issue is not just about how society treats felons who have done all that a judge and jury have said they have to do, it's also about the hidden and changing ways how we get them through the system and when the process is over. All of that includes time, restitution, fines (interest on said fines), and, in my case, "community supervision" for up to two years after I get released during which I will be required to go through the standard pee-in-a-cup schtick and have pre-approval from a community corrections officer regarding where I may live._/6]

All of that's fine, I suppose. But it's the persevering, severe "punishment" that's obnoxiously noxious. Everything from how late a felon can stay out at night to whom a felon can be friends with._/7]

Oh, and who we can date.

Lest ye think I'm exaggerating that last little tidbit, consider Pager's analysis: "According to federal housing policies, all public housing authorities, Section 8 providers, and federally assisted housing programs are permitted, and in some cases required, to deny housing to individuals who have prior criminal convictions." But it doesn't stop there, of course. There are also bans on entry into public housing and "[a]mong the range of public resources off-limits to ex-offenders, certain restrictions on cash assistance and food stamps, public housing eligibility, and educational loans are specifically targeted to individuals with drug convictions."_/8]

To me it's hard not to look at the revocation of federal housing subsidies from an indigent single mother (merely because her boyfriend-felon stays a few nights at her place) as anything but an overly Orwellian interest in the private affairs of consenting adults behind closed doors. And by all means, denying educational loans makes sense, felons should know their place and stay on welfare and should not be bettering themselves (even if they pay educational loans back at an interest rate), right? And unlike the 12.5 percent of people in America who depend on food stamps, I'm sure no felons would ever need help feeding themselves or their families._/9]

Unavoidable sarcasm aside, I bow down and accept that I have lost my constitutional right to own a firearm--end of debate. "In full compliance, sir."

But the expected rules go far, far beyond just that, for felons. The FBI, through the Firearm Crime Enforcement coalition, makes regular appearances here at the prison in order to bring "soon to be released DOC offenders together with criminal justice and law enforcement officials to advise offenders of the ramifications" regarding firearms possession and "violation[s] of their release conditions."_/10]

All well and good info, to be sure.

But what's also surely not advertised to the public is that the FBI et al. apparently warn felons getting out that if we are so much as caught with a bullet--not a bullet in a gun, mind you, just one single bullet--then we can face up to five years Fed time. "Bowing down, indeed, sir." Not to mention bowing down to the irrational fear that I could disgruntle some disturbed citizen who knows this info and they could, say, slip a bullet through my car window and anonymously call the Feds on me and "Nighty-night, it's Fed-time."_/11]

Is it right that my one felony means I have, for all intents and purposes, been stripped of my privilege even to be a citizen? If you're nodding, then doesn’t that mean I should have lost my Montgomery G.I. Bill and other benefits I earned as an honorable discharged veteran with my completed contract when, over a year later, I was convicted of a felony--should I not get those benefits? Ah, but thankfully (at least in that one way), that's not how it works.

Though in almost all other ways I can expect to be treated as a second-class citizen, at best._/12]

It's only now, after so long being down, that I am beginning to partially understand that "institutionalized" insanity, which can overwhelm a man with months left on his decades-long sentence when he walks away from some minimum-security work camp when he knows that years will be added to his sentence. To be dramatically emphatic, that will NOT be an issue with me. Ever. But even partially knowing what's coming I can almost grasp the essence of why someone could be scared to get out.


"Credible analyses for nearly twenty years have repeatedly shown that many developmental prevention methods and some treatment programs are better public investments than increased use of imprisonment."
Michael Tonry, "The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy"_/13]

HERE IN AMERICA, with prison populations and sentences that swell as bloatedly as our prisons, felons are often warehoused for a decade or two (or three, or four) until we get released to--what? To whom? To what kind of future? Here in these financially beyond-hard time those expensive theories of rehabilitation, education, and job-training are as out of fashion as all these guards' mustaches.

The Washington DOC has simply abandoned what little re-entry "training" was once offered. Once upon a time in this prison there was a class called "Getting It Right," which provided pre-release guidance and basic survival skills for the streets, but it has been defunded by the state. Once there was "Moral Reconation Therapy," which was designed to enhance self-image and the development of higher stages of moral reasoning, but it too has been defunded by the state. And once there was a Substance Abuse Counselor, but that position has also been defunded by the state.

A few scattered, scaled-back volunteer programs still exist. But any sort of official help to transition us out of prison (and, it could easily be argued, reduce recidivism) really isn't a priority in this prison, in this state, in these fiscally "down" times. This is true even though the state's own Institute for Public Policy's report found that "some research-based and well-implemented rehabilitation and prevention programs can produce better returns for the taxpayer's dollar than prison expansion."_/14]

And this lack of rehabilitation goes on despite this prison's mission statement which promises "effective re-entry programs ... effective programming, and comprehensive treatment in order to successfully reintegrate offenders into our communities with a reduced risk of offense."_/15]

But it's not like the state is only slashing programs that can partially be mended by diligent volunteer groups. This prison used to offer vocational training in welding, computer software/hardware troubleshooting/repair, horticulture, Computer Aided Drafting, industrial sewing, dry cleaning, and a printing press vocational class. Now all that's left is carpentry for less than 20 guys, or less than 3 percent of those here (and 95 percent of us will be getting out) and a stripped down computer class (that teaches that oh-so complicated "skill" of how to use the basic functions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)--but nothing else.

As for "job training," the only real one left is the Print Shop, which employs 39 prisoners (or 5.5 percent of the 707 here) but teaches no classes and uses outdated equipment. However, even this "training" doesn't really matter because the actual companies at which one used to be able to get hired with this skill no longer hire felons._/16]

And while some prisoners in here see selfish and evil intent in this lack of "effective programming" options (all in order to ensure, so they say, the job security of correctional personnel through recidivism), I merely see the same sort of lack of planning for the future that: 1.) got many of us in here, and, 2.) keeps closing schools while constructing prisons._/17]

The DOC’s promises to rehabilitate, yet underwhelming bit of follow-through is not exactly the most coherent and inspiring thing I’ve ever experienced.

“A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under the sun."
Thomas Carlyle, "Chartism"

"Tonight I ask you to consider another group of Americans in need of help. This year, [2004,] some 600,000 inmates will be released from prison back into our society. We know from long experience that if they can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit crime and return to prison."
George W. Bush, State of the Union address

FOR ME PERSONALLY, maybe it's the lack of full-spectrum re-entry tools (such as they were) and the lack of any decent job training (combined with our scurvy-inducing economy) that makes it so hard to face the question that I'm often asked (most recently, separately, by all three of my parents) of what I'll do when I get out. Meaning work. Meaning a life.

On that issue, one of the (few) drawbacks of a liberal arts degree is that it doesn't specify a career path (well, at least after teaching is out). And yet my Mom said that for the most part in corporate America a college diploma only signifies to an employer that you can commit to something difficult and complete it. It shows that you're trainable--you know, like a housebroken puppy.

But no matter how often I answer with quips of "it doesn't matter" or "anything legal," and spin and spiel about how I may not end up being one of those gentlemen who is luckly/blessed enough to have a soul-enriching career (and I may end up only being just a guy with a bills-paying job), it IS intimidating to contemplate being discriminated against in ways that I can't even begin to conceive, fueled by the contempt some will feel towards me, a convicted felon. Because although I'll soon be an ex-prisoner, I am forever a felon.

At least that's how I feel (and read and hear) about how I'll be treated, based on intuition, books, and even friends who got out and "made it." It's not going to be easy, this transition.

Not that I'm in any way looking for more time to be protected from the big, baaaad world that awaits (nor am I unrealistically expecting some cultural kum-bay-yah acceptance of me in all times and in all places). But while reading Devah Pager's "Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration," I must admit I was discouraged. Repeatedly. The stats slam into each other with such speed and force that I kept having to close the book, stunned about my "limited future employment opportunities and earning potential."_/18]

It's one thing to read that a year after release, unemployment is "in excess of 75 percent and rates of re-arrest [are] close to 45 percent," and that a criminal record "reduces the likelihood of a [job interview] callback by 50 percent," but it's another thing entirely to learn that even when the laws are going to be (partially) on my side, it won't matter. That's because even the few places where felons are NOT banned from working, studies show that "[e]ven though in most cases employers are not allowed to use criminal background information to make hiring decisions, a vast majority [of employers,] over 50 percent, and rising" nonetheless do._/19]

But the worst part, for me, isn't that "a large and growing population of ex-offenders [are] unable to secure even the most basic kinds of low-wage work," but rather the facts that predict that I'll be a continued burden on my family._/20]

The stats keep stupefying me, especially when I realize that, for me, a violent felon, all those frugal facts are "conservative estimates" and I'll face a far more frightening future._/21]

I want to stand up to these staggering stats and shout that I'm not institutionalized in the sense of wanting or needing this regimented and (relatively) "easy" world. But the fact that I hide from my future by submerging myself in the present clearly shows, to me, that I'm intimidated by the unknown, unknowable future that I can't fully face. Maybe because I don't know how.

‘“I am here, more than that I do not know, further than that I cannot go.'"
Franz Kafka, "The Hunter Gracchus"

I KNOW MYSELF enough to know that my default position (on things so serious that I can't even conceive how to crack them) is to pull an all-American. That is, to avoid thinking about them. Hide, hide, deny. "What commitment TV shows are on?" "Who can I 'amuse' with a 'funny' email?" "You're (relatively) smart and adapt (moderately) well, Jeff, what's to (overtly) worry about?"

There are (a few) drawbacks to being--let's be generous and call it--"smart." One of them is that I clearly see the continual, coming consequences of my long-ago self-shat-upon future. Another is that I hear the clicking intrusion of all things internet, the ticking of 18.5 years of Moore's Law, and the chattering of Blue Teeth in this Wi-Fi new world I'm about to brave. And I smell the dark unknowables that await me which no amount of beamingly bright, pure positivity or shrugging the other shoulder can prepare me for. (Nor will all my amazingly awesome alliterations allow me to nonchalantly smirk and scoff past all my impending problems, though I'm sure it's annoyingly apparent that I try.)

And yet I'm also smart enough to know that I have advantages many released felons don't have. Advantages like having earned a college degree; stashing away a small cache of cash (now with an extra $20.12); and, best of all, cherishing the absolute advantage of having massive family support and a place to live when I get out. (Oh, by the way, big sister o' mine, consider this my official request for asylum when released from this one.)

And yet in the stillness of my undistracted worry it's that unrelenting not-knowing what I'll do (what I'll be) that goes beyond a casual worry and can become an almost intolerable pressure squeezing the back of my eyes.

And yet I'm also so twitchingly anxious to get out and discover everything--including what I'll be--that any mere worry and nearly tear-squirting overwhelming fear can seem, like this whole 18.5 year wasteful detour, as if it can be impatiently waved away. (Or maybe that's just my sputtering desire to be the epitome of positivity, as if that'll be enough to fight through the unknown.)

Yes, I'm aware that most of this isn't exactly me at my positive.

I'm also well aware that this isn't me at my exactly most coherent.

And I'm aware that, well, this isn't my most inspiring me, exactly.

Yet whether or not it's a lack of re-transitioning tools used to wrench myself back into society or an honest bewilderment regarding what else I exactly could be doing besides all the major schoolin' I be doin' and the, um, minimum entertainment I continually absorb (all in the interest of being able to coherently "relate" to my future job interviewers, but of course), I am, well, aware that, like my current inability to even give my money away when I'm denied The Vote, there isn't exactly much else that I can do.

Hence my jumbled, limp thoughts on this exact topic.

Hence my crumbled, exacting fears on this topic.

Hence my fumbling worry that maybe there IS more that I can do--but I'm unaware of what exactly is beyond--of what comes after--hope.

--November 2012



1)  "Even after the term of punishment expires, some states deny the right to vote for a period of ranging from a number of years to the rest of one's life." Alexander, Michelle. "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." (New York: The New Press, 2012) 153, citing Ryan S. King, "Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States" (Washington, DC: Sentencing Project, Sept. 2008); "Only two states--Maine and Vermont--permit inmates to vote." Alexander 153.

2)  Pager, Devah. "Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration." (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) 174n7, citing Sarah Lawrence and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2004). See also Alexander 188, "This policy [of disenfranchisement of felons] is disturbingly reminiscent of the three-fifths clause in the original Constitution, which enhanced the political clout of slaveholding states by including 60 percent of slaves in the population base for calculating Congressional seats and electoral votes, even though they could not vote."

3) All information about Farrakhan, et al. v. Gregoire and its review on banc comes from Edward King, the founder of Voters in Prison, a "state certified non-profit organization that believes the quality of life for prisoners would radically be improved if we had a voice in the political system [and that] when people vote they are more invested in their community, and people more involved in their community are less likely to harm their community--reducing recidivism." More information about this organization, or an opportunity to support it, can be found at:

4) Though this is my snarky wording, I arrived at this conclusion based mostly on the following: Dworkin, Ronald. "The Decision That Threatens Democracy." The New York Review of Books. May 13, 2010: 63-64, 66-67, where Dworkin calls Kennedy's opinion on Citizens United "bizarre," "particularly naive," "alarming," (64) and that "Kennedy's claim ... is an invention" and his "confident assumption ... is wholly unjustified" (66), finally concluding that his "justifications ... are untenable in both constitutional theory and legal precedent" (67).


5) Alexander 158.

6) "'Parolees are routinely and randomly checked for illegal drug use, failure to locate or maintain a job, moving without permission, or any other number of petty and nuisance-type behaviors that don't conform to the rules of parole.'" Pager 24, quoting J. Irwin and J. Austin, "It's About Time: America's Imprisonment Binge," 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1994), 129; and Pager 24, "The revolving door of prison is in large part fueled by the changing context of parole."

7)"Technical violations of parole include failing a drug test, failing to maintain employment, moving without permission, associating with other felons, violating curfew, and missing a parole appointment." Pager 168, citing Jeremy Travis, "But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry." (Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press, 2005), 49.

8) Pager 24 and 172n59, citing Travis, Jeremy, Amy Solomon, and Michelle Waul. "From prison to home: The dimensions and consequences of prisoner reentry." (Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press, 2001).

9) Sachs, Jeffrey D. "The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity." (New York: Random House, 2011) 8, citing "U.S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program website ( for more information."

10) The Firearm Crime Enforcement [FACE] Coalition of Washington State's King County's focus, in part, is to "Implement The Behind the FACE Program which brings soon to be released DOC offenders together with criminal justice and law enforcement officials to advise offenders of the ramifications, should they use a firearm in the commission of a crime, or be found in violation of their release conditions, if in possession of a firearm." More information on PSN can be found at: (accessed 5 Sept. 2012).

11) Though the PSN site didn't specify this information, the five years per bullet threat is commonly known here in the prison from prisoners who have been through these info-fests; and, according to 18 USC [section] 922(g) & (n) "I. Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Prohibited Person," it mentions, among other things, "Felons" as the "Elements" and "Possession or receipt of a firearm or ammunition" and states, "Punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment." Though that's not conclusive proof of the five years per bullet threat, it's more than enough to make this felon, when visiting the supermarket, roll up his car windows. Every. Single. Time.

12) Alexander states that "the stigma of the prison label" creates a "permanent pariah status," (94) "relegating [a felon] to a permanent second-class status," (139), "becom[ing] members of an undercaste [who] are denied basic rights and privileges of American citizenship and are permanently relegated to an inferior status" (182).


13) Tonry, Michael, ed. "The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy." (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 17, referencing Welsh, Brandon C., David P. Farrington, and Lawrence Sherman. "Costs and Benefits of Preventing Crime." (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001) and Aos, Steve, Marna Miller, and Elizabeth Drake. "Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Future Prison Construction, Criminal Justice Costs, and Crime Rates." (Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute on Public Policy, 2006).

14) "The Criminal Justice System in Washington State: Incarceration Rates, Taxpayer Costs, Crime Rates, and Prison Economics." Washington State Institute for Public Policy. Jan. 2003. ( Document No. 03-01-1202. Furthermore, it adds: "For example, some drug treatment programs give taxpayers a better return than increasing incarceration rates for drug offenders," with the following footnote: "For a list of programs with research-based evidence, see S. Aos, P. Phipps, R. Barnoski, R. Lieb, 'The Comparative Costs and Benefits of Programs to Reduce Crime Version 4.0,' (Olympia, WA: Washington Institute for Public Policy, 2001)."

15) "The MCC-DOC Mission Statement: The Department of Corrections, in collaboration with its criminal justice partners, will contribute to staff and community safety and hold officers accountable through administration of criminal sanctions and effective re-entry programs. The Monroe Correctional Complex, through the diverse professionalism of staff and stakeholders, enhances community safety with a broad range of sound security practices, effective programming, and comprehensive treatment in order to successfully reintegrate offenders into our communities with a reduce risk of re-offense." (2012)

16) The Merrill Corp. used to hire felons who had gotten printing press experience in prison, but their policy has changed, a common trend nowadays.

17) "Between 1977 and 2001, spending on corrections increased elevenfold, rising at roughly twice the rate of spending on education, hospitals, and health care, public welfare, or interest on public debt." Pager 24, citing Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2001" (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2004).


18.) "In particular, incarceration is associated with limited future employment opportunities and earnings potential, which themselves are among the strongest predictors of desistance from crime." Pager 3, citing Chris Uggen, "Work as a Turning Point in the Life Course of Criminals: A Duration Model of Age, Employment, and Recidivism," American Sociological Review 65, no. 4 (2000): 529-46; Bruce Western, "The Impact of Incarceration on Earning," American Sociological Review 67, no. 4 (2002): 526-46.

19.) "A snapshot of ex-offenders one year after release reveals a rocky path to reintegration, with rates of joblessness in excess of 75 percent and rates of re-arrest close to 45 percent." Pager 5, although she adds: "But one simple question remains unanswered: Are the employment problems of ex-offenders CAUSED by their offender status, or does this population simply comprise a group of individuals who were never very successful at mainstream involvement in the first place?" 5 [emphasis in original]; Pager 67, 65. Also, 163n18: "More than seventy-one million criminal history records were maintained in state criminal history repositories by the end of 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006, 'Survey of State Criminal History Systems,' NCJ 210297. As of 2004, thirty-eight made some or all of this information available on-line. Legal Action Center, 'After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry. A Report on state Legal Barriers Facing People with Criminal Records,' ed. Paul Samuels and Debbie Makamal (New York: Legal Action Center, 2004)."

20.) "The implications of this study point to a large and growing population of ex-offenders unable to secure even the most basic kinds of low-wage work. With more than 650,000 ex-offenders returning from prison each year, existing problems of prisoner reentry are likely to amplify over time." Pager 71. Also: "The social costs of high unemployment among this group--manifested by high rates of recidivism and additional burdens to families, communities, and public agencies--are cause for serious public concern." Pager 71.

21.) "If anything, emphasis on drug crimes is likely to produce conservative estimates of the effect of a criminal record: survey results indicate that employers are substantially more averse to applicants convicted of violent crimes or property crimes than to those convicted of drug crimes." Pager 185n8, citing Harry Holzer, Steven Raphael, and Michael Stoll, 'Employer Demand for Ex-Offenders: Recent Evidence from Los Angeles,' Urban Institute Working Paper, 2003.'"

Jeff C.

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