Recession to Unlock Wave of Ex-Cons

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2009 4:54 AM CST
The US is at a "historical moment" to give up its policy of "mass incarceration," a former New York corrections official said.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Thousands of prisoners around the country will have the recession to thank for setting them free, Ken Steir writes in Time. With California planning to release nearly 160,000 prisoners from under-funded, overcrowded prisons, and other states transferring drug convicts to rehab, the US is likely to see a wave of ex-convicts walking the streets. The trick for government officials is rehabilitating them, and finding them a job.

Luckily, these options are far cheaper than keeping convicts in prison. But some politicians refuse to shut down prisons—"economic engines," Republicans in upstate New York call them—and freed ex-cons are facing grim employment prospects. "Our people are usually in the back of the line for jobs, but that line just got a lot longer" in today's economy, one advocate said.