I digress , this article is about a small business owner wanting to give jobs to a person who had previously been in jail. They make good workers. Though it’s, sad to learn, 70% of the prison population is illiterate! How is this possible?
Employers need people who can read and write. Perhaps, instead of being strictly punitive, most prisons should be evaluating a person’s skill sets and training them for the real world and better life experiences and choices.
Many studies, like this one from 2003 by the Urban Institute, found that about 70% of offenders and ex-offenders are high school dropouts. About half are “functionally illiterate”, meaning they can’t read above a fourth-grade level.
Worse, statistics show that 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are essentially illiterate. Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. I can’t hire someone – or even teach them the skills my company requires – if they don’t have a high school level of literacy. Being illiterate is a complete non-starter.
Some of the big companies – and good for them – have the resources to help these ex-convicts learn these skills. But small businesses like mine, which employ more than half of the country’s workers, don’t have the ability to do this. So what can be done?