Prison Radio
Omar Askia Ali

Statistics show that 85 to 90 percent of those incarcerated are in prison for economically related crimes, mostly due to poverty and lack of education and lack of employable skills. Moreover, the recidivism rate among those prisoners who do not acquire an education or a marketable skill set while incarcerated is extremely high.

Therefore, how a prisoner will support him or herself is paramount consideration among all things considered and granting parol. Due to the nature of the crime for lifers, this consideration takes on a deeper dimension.

There exists the perception that lifers will be released without the ability to obtain financial stability and thereby be a danger and burden to society. It is that legislative and the public will ask that question: how will newly paroled lifers support themselves once released? This is a question we must answer.

The first brick lead in the foundation of financial stability for Pennsylvania lifers once paroled is the raw fact that recidivism rates among lifers on parole in other states is less than 1%. This statistic cuts right through the heart of the matter. What it shows is that lifers are far less likely than all parolees to re-offend or commit a technical violation to be brought back to prison. Why is this true?

Unlike the average prisoner released on parole, lifers have duly acquired a high degree of maturity, education, a good work ethic, and a repertoire of marketable skills by the time they are released, which allows them to navigate the job market effectively and to ultimately become gainfully employed. Lifers in Pennsylvania will be no different than lifers paroled in other states.

The vast majority has acquired a substantial education over the course of their incarceration: GEDs, college degrees, and trades, apprenticeship. Along the way, most have developed effective communication skills and marketable employment skills when working for years in various fields.

They have become plumbers, electricians, carpenters, teachers, aides, program facilitators, and more. Some have multiple skills while others [inaudible] rigorous training in the fields of treatment and social intervention.

What these things show is that the average lifer has a resume that would prize him or her highly employable in numerous fields. [Inaudible] the argument that lifers in Pennsylvania have a high possibility of finding gainful employment if released on parole. Moreover, the fact points to lifers ability to be self-sufficient.

Thank you very much.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.