Michigan parolees to get ‘Certificate of employability’

May 21st, 2014 | By | Category: Criminal Justice Reform, Paco's Podium, Parole, Politics-Relevant;, Spotlight

If the prison system says it, it must be true(?)

Wisconsin DOC will soon certify offenders of "good morale character" deemed "employable."

Wisconsin DOC will soon certify offenders deemed of  “good morale character” as “employable.” (ZOOM image)

LANSING MI–WILX Channel 10 reports the Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation “that aims to improve job opportunities for former prisoners on parole.”

“The House unanimously passed two bills Tuesday that would allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to issue a “certificate of employability” to a parolee who completes a course and doesn’t have a significant misconduct record. The certificate would need to be considered if a board or agency were determining a parolee’s “good moral character.”

A 3rd bill was then passed to “provide legal protections for employers who hire parolees.” All 3 bills are being considered by the state senate where Republican Klint Kesto says the legislation “will help reduce the 78 percent unemployment rate among Michigan prison parolees.”

In Paco’s world, the legislation is a conundrum. That is, if the DOC certifies paroled offenders are employable and “of good moral character,” why must prospective employers be “legally protected?”  Do people of good morale character pose a threat to public safety heretofore unknown?

Presumably, employers endeavor to hire people of good morale character as a matter of course. Should employers receive some sort of legal protection for hiring non-parolees of good morale character as well?

No, this is just another silly, feel good measure signifying nothing but good intentions and faulty premises.

Just how likely are employers to hire because the DOC issued a certificate of employability and good character? The general populace historically holds corrections and its employees in low regard–Distrust in corrections is at an all time high…it always is!

“Yeah, I killed those people but that was a long time ago and I have changed. Here’s the certificates to prove it…”

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8 Comments to “Michigan parolees to get ‘Certificate of employability’”

  1. FXSTC1 says:

    Developing special programs and giving out Certificates of Employability are not going to be very effective to a large portion of the felons in prison. Unfortunately, many inmates broadcast their mentality with their speech, mannerisms and tattoos. How many employers want their businesses represented by people who emulate the thug world. Plus their reliability is probably the lowest of any segment in America. I believe the drug problem in America will be solved before the “ex-inmate goes to work” issue is resolved. A majority of the prisoners have been in the system since childhood. With that comes abuse, given and taken, very poor social skills, behavior issues, poor educations and learning skills, resentment of authority, resistance to rules etc. Many of use who have worked in the system know all these things and in our minds don’t give out much hope for programs or certificates. I’m just saying

    • Howie Katz says:

      You have really put it well, FXSTC1, especially where you say that for longtime inmates “comes abuse, given and taken, very poor social skills, behavior issues, poor educations and learning skills, resentment of authority, resistance to rules etc.” Add to that the tattoos that you mention – especially those on the neck and those on the faces of the stupider shits – and the con-talk and mannerisms of parolees, and they sure are not going to prime candidate for employment.

      A Certificate of Employability may very well help a sophisticated middle-class parolee, but I don’t see how it will help the majority of inmates you have so capably described.

  2. Bob Walsh says:

    I am inclined to agree with Howie that this seems to be primarily a “feel-good” proposal. Unless it actually indemnifies employees from criminal acts committed by parolee-employees, it is essentially useless (IMHO).

  3. kl2008a says:

    We need to first understand the problem the exists within various our cultures. While one segment sees going to prison as a bad thing with some shame involved, another segment looks upon it as a “badge of honor” or a “family tradition” to do time in the can. The problem is also with our “cushy” prisons where inmates do not see it as a horrible place and will do everything they can to stay out and within the law. This problem will only get worse as the courts get more involved with the system and place the criminal rights over the victims.

    Is a parolee a good person or bad one? It all falls back to self control. How much internal temptation can he or she resists before deciding “To hell with it. I want it and I’m going to take it and so what if I go back!” Many, just see returning to prison as a vacation away from the responsibilities that come with being a good citizen and/or parent (getting a job, feeding your kids,, paying your bills, etc). In my book it’s called laziness!

  4. Howie Katz says:

    Paco, I think you are mistaken when you presume “employers endeavor to hire people of good moral character as a matter of course.” Employers are primarily interested in making money and if it’s people of good moral character they’re looking for, it’s only protect their bottom line.

    It may very well be that the 78 percent unemployment rate among Michigan parolees may not be much different from that experienced in most other states. I think we can agree that a high unemployment rate among parolees equates to a high rate of recidivism. Thus, I think what the Michigan legislature is doing is a step in the right direction. I am sure the legal protection bill is designed to protect employers from being sued because one of their employees committed a crime against one of their customers or employees in the course of his employment.

    I think it is a real stretch to consider a parolee a person of good moral character because he has been issued a Certificate of Employability.

    I agree that the legislation will be nothing more than feel-good legislation if employers disregard those certificates and still refuse to hire parolees.

    To me, what’s of most importance is how can that high unemployment rate for parolees be lowered and what will it take to get employers to hire parolees?

    • pacovilla says:

      As a capitalist, I submit “employers endeavor to hire people of good moral character as a matter of course” precisely because “Employers are primarily interested in making money.” To wit, dishonest people embezzle which kills the bottom line. Now, dishonesty may be at a premium in, say, telemarketing, but that is another discussion for another day.

      I have always advocated real life training toward real-world jobs. I simply meant I think certifying employability is absurd, and the “protections” to be afforded support my premise.

      My experience as an agent tells me parolees who truly try succeed. Plenty of employers hire offenders at fair wages. Sadly, a small percentage of the parolee pool is looking for honest work. Times may change but, as a group, parolees do not.

      • Howie Katz says:

        I too am a capitalist, Paco. If you had said employers are looking to hire people who will not steal from them, I would have agreed with you. I don’t think most employers give a hoot about the moral character of their workers so long as those employees do not hurt the bottom line.

        As for parolees getting jobs, times have changed since you worked the field. Nowadays, most employers will not hire parolees. In a competitive job market at a time when the unemployment rate is high, parolees can get jobs in construction, but only if there are still openings after workers without criminal records have been hired. Parolees who are journeymen in a specific trade can still get some work through their unions.

        Otherwise, parolees are left only with jobs in car washes, washing dishes in restaurants and mowing lawns. Those low-wage jobs are not likely to reduce the rate of recidivism.