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July 3, 2013

Life after prison: Local judge says funding makes it tough to keep people from coming back

(Continued)

> SOUTHERN INDIANA —

Yet all the preparation in the world doesn’t mean a released prisoner will actually find a job in the outside world — especially in the current economic environment. By law, they must disclose a felony convictions by checking a box on applications. Despite employer tax incentives and other enticements given by the state, stigmas remain.

“It’s becoming much more select in this current job market. Employers can be selective. Jobs are hard to find for the normal guy that has a skill set and no felony conviction,” Moore said. 

Still, Poukish compiles a list of employers in the area willing to hire felons and recently released offenders. New legislation recently passed by the Indiana General Assembly would also provide some relief by allowing an avenue for some nonviolent class D felonies and other misdemeanor convictions to be expunged from records after certain criteria had been met. 

Life after prison goes on for those who figure out how to make it work. Community and family support also can help. Yet Farrell said there’s no one-size-fits-all model. Different types of people require different types of programs. For local government, the challenge is to convince lawmakers to fund these initiatives. 

“The distinction must lie in where the legislature is taking us,” Moore said. “Leadership from them is everything.”

 

WHAT’S IN THE WORKS

In April, legislation sponsored by State Sen. Brent Steele to update Indiana’s felony code passed through the General Assembly. It changed Indiana’s four classes of lettered felonies from A-D to six numerical categories listed as 1-6. 

Steele said the legislation will ultimately reduce prison costs; however, it doesn’t take effect until next July. In the interim, another committee has been assigned to review the legislation as well as issues surrounding prison expenses including the costs to local governments. 

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