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Mike Klotz


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Mayor Daley has caught a lot of flack in the city for the past few years.  The criticisms have come from from a failed Olympic bid to the usual Chicago corruption acquisitions.  There is one thing that the Mayor does deserve some credit for and its the recent call for improvement on prisoner reentry.  America's dirty little secret, our old friends that we have sent away.  But guess what?  Our old friends come back out.  

It really has be
come quite an expensive and worthless endeavor, locking all our problems away.  While crime rates have dropped since the early 90s the prison population has risen and risen by 800% since 1970.  Harsher punishments such as three strikes laws and mandatory minimums have filled our prisons to the gills.  Did you know that the United States, the best country in the world - the land of the free, has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Sounds kind of hypocritical if you ask me.  To call yourself the land of the free when you take away the freedom of individuals per capita more than all three countries in the "Axis of Evil" or any other demonic state out there takes a lot of balls.  But we don't lock these people up forever, we do eventually let them out so we aren't so bad. 

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The fact of the matter is upon their return they see less opportunities that were available prior to their mistake(s).  Don't get me wrong, if you commit a crime, pardon the cliche', you do have to do the time (a fair amount of time).  The issue is just that, if you do the time - that should be enough.  That doesn't happen in this culture that we live in.  Those that have made mistakes and committed crimes either of necessity, addiction, stupidity, or desperation become branded with the scarlet letter of a permanent record.  A record that they carry with them for years, maybe the rest of their lives.  

After your mistake you will always be referred to as an ex-convict, or an ex-con.  When filling out those post incarceration applications ex-cons have to check yes in that box that many of us have seen.  Have you been convicted of a felony?  Hmmmm... I am an employer looking at a pile of applications, who do you think I am going to hire?  The person who checked no, or yes?


So then what happens to these people?  When someone can't get a job anywhere due to their record or maybe they can get a job at minimum wage, what do you think happens next?  People become depressed about their situation and revert back to their addictions.  And since minimum wage jobs can't pay enough for people to live on, they certainly cannot become a way to support a habit.  Which can very easily lead to crimes to satisfy addiction.  If it's not an addiction it becomes a crime of necessity or desperation because they don't have any money to live in. People have to live their lives. Its a vicious circle that keeps violently spinning, ruining many lives during its cycle.  

I applaud Mayor Daley for stepping up with a program to do something about it.  Giving these ex-prisoners, well paying, green jobs in the city benefits them and the community.  $1 out of every $20 of the Illinois General Revenue Fund goes to prisons.  While the state keeps cutting education, its good to see that something is being attempted in alleviating the ever growing prison population/spending.  Educating these former prisoners in a specific job will boost the economy by adding productive workers that will be less likely to end up back into the system.  Also the extensive social work programs, heath care, drug treatment, in-prison education and training, and preparing inmates for life outside of prison walls are all very good programs to help the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.  Hopefully these programs are implemented as they are detailed in the mayor's plan for prison reentry. http://egov.cityofchicago.org/webportal/COCWebPortal/COC_ATTACH/MPCExecutiveSummary.pdf

Remember that not all people that have made mistakes are bad people.  Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Jesus, Dr. King, and Muhammad Ali were all incarcerated at some point in their lives. Good thing they didn't have to check yes on their applications. 

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