Another contributing factor in long-term poverty is the incarceration of so many young men. A 2013 study in the journal ‘Crime & Delinquency’ found that by the age of 23, 49% of black men and 44% of Hispanic males in the U.S. have been arrested. Once those incarcerated have served their time, they continue to pay a price. With a criminal record, it's very difficult to get good jobs, rent an apartment, or get loans. There's a desperate need for a second chance.
In 2004, Hawaii's First Circuit Judge Steven Alm launched HOPE Probation (www.hopeprobation.org) to reduce probation violations and recidivism while helping offenders succeed. This high-intensity supervision program provides probationers with swift, predictable, and proportional sanctions for each detected violation. If they screw up and turn themselves in, it's a few days in jail. If authorities have to find them, it can be a month. If violations are frequent, they'll go back for years.
Why have over 2000 HOPE probationers been successful? It's because HOPE Probation balances consistent accountability with strong support. Although success depends on their choices, probationers are welcomed and assured that the program wants them to succeed. Probationers are helped in finding jobs and are given a chance to prove their worth. This program saves money and saves lives! It deserves to spread.
Locking individuals in an underclass society where government dependence or crime are the best ways to get beyond minimum wage is no way to keep America strong. Americans of all political persuasions need to work together locally to inspire and equip those in their midst to break the hold of poverty on their lives.
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