Legal Magazine

Why Criminals Go Back to Jail Again and Again

Posted on the 26 August 2013 by Bluecollarworkman @TB_BlueCollar

car window brokenThis is a comment I got for my post, Tips From a Former Car Thief on How To Protect Your Car:

“I just had my car broken into tonight. I appreciate you wanting to give back to society and that you still feel bad about what you did. However, what you did can never be erased from history. What you say now or do now will not change what you have done or the effect you have had on other people. Once a thief, always a thief.”

If you just got your car broken into, I understand being pissed about it—I can’t fault the guy for that. That last part though, “once a thief, always a thief” is what I want to talk about.

Once a Thief…

I haven’t told the story yet of how I actually became a convicted felon. But for now, I’ll say that I was caught doing something, I was (correctly) found guilty, and I served my time.

Once I served my short time in prison, I was ready to get a job and turn my life around. That’s not uncommon actually, a lot of dudes in prison want to turn their lives around.

Always a Thief?

So I got out of prison and looked for a job where I could use the skills I had. Carpentry jobs, mechanic jobs, oil-change jobs… no one would hire me. Because no one wants to hire a convicted felon.

That happens almost always to convicted felons. You get out of the clinker and can’t get a job because all job applications ask to do a background check. If you check “yes,” then they see you’re a felon, if you check “no,” then they figure you’re a felon. Either way, you don’t get the job.

The Two Options

Like we all know, most felons end up back in prison. You can’t turn your life around if you’re not allowed to turn your life around because you can’t find a job. So criminals go back to criminal activity. At some point, you only have two options:

  1. Starve or freeze to death because no one will give you a job
  2. Go back to stealing/criminal stuff so that you can afford to eat and have a place to stay

Those aren’t great options. If people refuse to hire felons, then they leave felons no choice—they gotta go back to crime to survive.

Pitched roof job
So Then How Do You Get Your Life Turned Around?

Luck. I happened to have two uncles who both taught me trades and gave me jobs. One uncle taught me welding and one taught me carpentry. My one uncle gave me a welding job when I was fresh out of prison. The other uncle gave me a carpentry job years later.

Those skills and jobs gave me a few years of having a clean record. And I was able to get into unions. I still have problems getting new jobs, even though I’ve been clean and employed for over 10 years—it’s always the background check problem. In fact, within the company I work for now sometimes we have jobs at federal buildings and I’m not allowed to do the job because I’m a convicted felon.

A lot of felons don’t have the luck I had of having two uncles who gave me a second chance and a job in the trades.

Once a Thief, Always a Thief—It Depends

Not in my case. I work a regular job and haven’t committed any crimes since my conviction. I got myself turned around. But in many dudes’ cases, it’s a true statement. You can’t reform yourself if you get shot down on every job application you put out there.

Image credit: car window

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