America has more of its citizens locked up than any other nation on Earth, 2.3 million of our fellow Americans -- far greater per capita than any other country, but also in absolute numbers. That means America has more incarcerated than China has with its 1.4 billion population. With twice the population of the US, Europe has less than one-third as many of its citizens behind bars.
Contributing most to this very American problem are repeat offenders. Almost half of all inmates released from our federal prisons will be arrested again within five years. This recidivism rate for state prisons goes up to 77%. Since most inmates will be released at some point, that means most (not some, but most) of those 2.3 million inmates will be coming to neighborhoods like yours to commit a crime. This makes it our collective problem.
To deal with the $40-billion/year cost of prisons and its overcrowding problem, we're seeing plenty of court-mandated early release programs where such inmates are moving into our neighborhoods before sentences expire. That's where the incalculable cost of this grows as desperate ex-cons turn against the communities they should be helping to build.
There are those who say the solution is to keep them in prison, to build more prisons. That solution is to eventually house more prisoners in America than all the rest of the world combined. We're already 1/4 of the way there. When we realize that we are talking about our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and kids, it's time to stop speaking of "them" as the only problem.
To understand the problem from Access2online's perspective, consider a released inmate dropped off at a bus stop with a couple hundred bucks and a stern warning not to come back. That inmate doesn't have enough to rent an apartment nor buy a car, and she'll be checking the ex-felon box on job applications. Is it a surprise that she will eventually present herself at the doorstep of her earlier morally-challenged buddies and ask, "Do you know how I can get some money?"
An inmate may have been a successful accountant or zoologist 5 years ago, but will anyone hire someone whose job skills were from 5 years ago? Considering your own current job, would your boss hire you to do your job if your skills were entirely from 5 years ago? In prison, the guys in the exercise yard might speak of drug dealing and robbing liquor stores. So what might have become such an inmate's new job skills? Of course some jobs are available to inmates, working in the prison kitchen or laundry, or the notorious license plate production line or various forms of manual labor -- jobs without a livable wage or much of a future.
We all know the jobs with a future leverage the internet, but no prison will allow inmates to have live internet connections. For good reason, they fear schemes with drug dealers, hit men, and gang members. This is where Access2online comes in, and where you become part of the solution by using our accessibility services.
Access2online's eTaskBoard software allows work tasks to come in from the internet, pass strict security restrictions that include the human oversight of our Coordinator, and land in the in-basket of an inmate at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon's prison for women. That inmate is paid to do your accessibility analysis and provide a recommendation report.
We all worry about what risk we run allowing inmates to look at our information. Here's our FAQ answer to put you at ease.
When that inmate is released, she may have saved enough for an apartment, car, and computer. When she goes home as a parolee, she'll be able to turn on her computer and log into Access2online from her home. The underlying eTaskBoard software, after all, was designed for teleworkers. She will see the tasks she left in her in-basket and can get right back to work from the outside. The Coordinator is still on the job reviewing the quality of the parolee's work. This transition from prison to the outside is when ex-felons are most vulnerable, most fearful of change, but with Access2online, the transition is seamless in terms of their work.
Such a parolee is also available to hire, and she is free to shop her resume and her list of current career accomplishments. It's so much easier to get a job when you have one. Sometimes an Access2online customer, such as a web design firm or the online department of a corporation, will grow to value the task deliverables of such a parolee to the point that they make her a regular employee or contractor. Unlike most consulting firms, we are not upset if you hire away our workers. We know where we can get more, sadly 2.3 million more.
Access2online parolees will build their communities instead of attacking them. We see no better way to give a second chance to people who have served their time, to reduce recidivism, to reduce prison overcrowding, and to make neighborhoods safer -- your neighborhoods.