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Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Help ex-prisoners get back to work

File under: jobs, public perception, civil rights

3 (1 votes)

From: Christine A., Arlington, MA

In 1997, at the end of Buddhist meditation retreat, I volunteered to write to a prisoner, to become his pen pal to support his meditation practice while he was incarcerated. Two years ago he was released. Since then, he has not been able to find a job. No one will hire him because he is a convicted felon. It doesn't matter that he got an associate degree in business while in prison, that he got a certificate in horticulture, or that he learned to train dogs. No one will hire him because he has a criminal record. If it weren't for the fact that a Lutheran minister is paying his rent and giving him money for basic necessities, he would be on the street.

The United States incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world. Most people go back into the community after serving time. But if they can't find work, how will they survive? They can't. And so, they are condemned, after they paid their debt to society, to a life of poverty -- or they revert to crime. With no opportunity to turn their lives around, what choice do they have? We need reform. First, we need to have jobs waiting for those released from prison. Second, we need to have alternatives to prison sentences for some crimes, such as community service with mentoring, leading to permanent, livable-wage employment. We've tried the stick and it hasn't worked. It's time to try the carrot.


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American RadioWorks |
Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

Recent Posts

  • 02.04.16

    When School Vouchers Are Not a Leg Up

    School voucher programs are controversial because they allow students to use public funds to pay for private school. A new paper is one of the first to show a school voucher program actually lowering student test scores.
  • 01.28.16

    Learning Financial Literacy

    Most teenagers are not learning about personal finance in school, according to an annual survey on financial literacy. Our guest this week says that needs to change.
  • 01.21.16

    Questioning Inequalities in Higher Ed

    College was once considered the path of upward mobility in this country, and for many people, it still is. But research shows that the higher education system can actually work against poor and minority students, because they often end up at colleges with few resources and low graduation rates.
  • 01.15.16

    Learning as a Science

    What does research say about how students learn best? A group of deans from schools of education around the country has united to make sure future teachers are armed with information about what works in the classroom.