The “typical” offender doesn’t exist

I started a new class this week.  What struck me again is the challenge of making an employment course  meaningful to people from such a variety of backgrounds.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

It’s a reminder, too,  that there isn’t a typical offender.  This has been the true with  both the men’s and women’s classes I’ve taught.

Of the fifteen women on my latest roster, for example,  a couple have or are working on college degrees.  A few haven’t finished high school.

Nearly half were employed at the time of their arrest.

Several are in their early 20s, but the ages range into the late 40s.

About two thirds have children. Half of those have children young enough to be in the  care of of someone else right now.

Half are white, the rest are  split between African American and Latino.

Four are required to be kept separate from at least one other inmate in detention.

Roughly 60 percent have crimes that show up in an internet search.

A couple are serving sentences for misdemeanors.  One will be released Friday.  At least three  have been convicted of more serious felonies and will be sent to downstate to serve prison terms.

And yet, when I ask them to write down their questions,  I get different versions of the same concern:  How will I get an employer to hire me with a felony?

The challenge will be answering this in a way that each woman  can relate to, and  hopefully take with her.

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2 Comments

Filed under education ex-offenders, employment assistance ex-offenders, ex-offenders education, Uncategorized

2 responses to “The “typical” offender doesn’t exist

  1. This is great work that you do. Wow, inspiring.

  2. Thanks, Andrea! I’m glad you like it.

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