Many states and individuals complain about budget items, but few ever discuss the booming private prison industry in this nation – a Wall Street-traded for-profit prison system supported by tax dollars… a corporate welfare program if ever there was one.
A key paragraph is this one: “Although states spend significant amounts of money on criminal justice—it’s second only to Medicaid in state budgets—the vast majority of those costs go toward prisons, with limited emphasis on preparing prisoners for life on the outside. The costs of incarceration include an annual $82 billion spent on corrections nationwide, including millions for oversight of parole systems overseeing the 75% of prisoners released short of their full sentences.”
From Prison to a Paycheck
Instead of training and counseling, Newark is trying work first—with promising results
- LIFE & CULTURE
- August 3, 2012, 6:51 p.m. ET
Former inmate Hector Morales at work; the Office of Reentry in Newark, N.J., intervened to help him. He says he was tired of being a bad role model for his kids.
Hector Morales might not seem, at first, to be an American success story. At age 50, he works the graveyard shift—7 p.m. to 5 a.m.—at the back of a garbage truck, part of a three-man crew that lifts and loads 80,000 pounds of waste each night in New York City. It’s his first job in years. The native of Paterson, N.J., a high-school dropout, still owes more than $9,000 in child-support payments to the state of New Jersey.
But compared with Mr. Morales’s situation a year ago, his story is a success.
Then, he was completing a five-year sentence at the Northern State Prison in Newark, N.J. The former heroin addict has spent, by his own estimate, 18 years behind bars, mostly on drug-related charges. Today, Newark-based Action Carting, one of the largest commercial disposal firms operating in New York, considers Mr. Morales to be a model employee and a good prospect for promotion if he completes his plan to get a commercial truck driver’s license. Currently, he’s on track to earn more than $60,000 a year, including overtime. Every week, part of his check goes to pay off his child-support debt.
Part of the change is due to Mr. Morales’s own attitude. “I got tired of being in jail, tired of officers controlling my life, tired of being the wrong kind of role model for my children,” he says.
His success says much about an unusual intervention by Newark. In April 2009, with the help of Read the rest of this entry »