Rev. Dr. Corey Minatani, M.Div.
Submitted for Consideration for Publication to American Prison Writing Archive 8-1-2021
Word Count 585
Alone on the Curb
The struggles of recidivism are very real for inmates returning to society. Being thrown out of prison with $40 gate money, a bus ticket, and if you’re lucky, a voucher for two months of housing, the chances for slipping back into crime and returning to prison is very high indeed.
Given the resources upon exit of prison, I challenge even a normal citizen to be successful in the same circumstances society puts on the felon. If the city in which the inmate is released has plentiful resources, that’s a boon; many inmates are forced to return to their County of Origin, or where they committed their first crime. Whether that makes financial success for the inmate isn’t the concern of the state in which incarceration occurred.
According to the inmates I’ve interviewed, they simply go back to the well-paying life of crime. Why? Examine what felons obtain upon release: : bus ticket, $40, and a voucher for two months’ rent. Does that include money for city bus fare? No. Does that include enough money to eat upon until the felon can get food stamps or cash benefits? Not really. Also, during the pandemic, the bureaucratic government has deemed their offices closed; contact them via internet or phone. Ok. Inmates aren’t given a phone, and phone booths are a thing of the past.
Without a smartphone or laptop, the felon can’t access the internet to obtain benefits. So, one can see the issue.
Now, in order to say, get a cell phone or computer without cash, how does one go about it? Ah, yes, credit. Right. How well are felons’ credit on average? Poor, I would argue. For example, I have good credit. Now. Only after battling the Credit Reporting agencies and getting the State Attorney General’s Office involved. Fixing my credit took over two years! Many prisons don’t even give out information about credit or credit repair. When the Credit Reporting agencies do receive correspondence from an inmate whose envelope is marked as such, they either discriminate against you or simply ignore you. By all rights, inmates are not exactly
‘consumers,’ are they? No. So why give us any real help? Even after arguing with them for two years, they still think I’m a resident in either Texas or Alaska; I’ve been incarcerated in
Washington State. Oftentimes, inmates’ spouses, ex-spouses, girlfriends, or friends will abuse their name and credit while they rot in prison. For me, I found all kinds of crazy things on my report, such as my looking at ‘washing machines’ for some reason while I’m in prison.
My point here is that society has yes, put felons in prison. The strange thing is that, even when we get out, we are simply left alone on the curb. On the curb with $40, a bus ticket, and a housing voucher. Blankets? No. Food? Not really? Any real chance of hope? It depends upon the individual inmate. Or does it? Does it depend on society or the community-at-large in which the inmate is released? Does it depend upon the citizens’ generosity and an overall love for humanity? Maybe. If all of that is so, does society share the blame if felons return to crime to get shelter for the night, or money to furnish the four bare walls bestowed upon them with the voucher?
I hope and pray we all come together to do something better; have a better plan for those returning to society after they’ve paid their debts. God Bless.
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