Author, Expert & Speaker

Re-entry

As I write this post, a seventeen-day prison strike is going on in this country. The coordinated actions started on August 21, 2018, and will end on September 9, 2018. The strike brings to the forefront prison reform issues that I, and countless other supporters of change, have been bringing to the attention of the general public and public servants about the pernicious grind of mass incarceration.… Read the rest

California is burning. The air contaminants from uncontained wildfires have caused a hazy reddish-gray umbrella sky extending from north to south. The images of brave and dedicated firefighters battling the rampage of fire in the midst of high temperatures and low humidity appear in the local and national press. Fighting wildfires in California is very serious business.… Read the rest

In part 1, I focused on federal tax incentives for employers that hire formerly incarcerated people (FIP). I highlighted the federal government’s Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) opportunity for employers hiring FIPs. The WOTC was created by Congress during the Obama administration to incentivize employers to hire individuals within target groups—one of which includes the formerly incarcerated.… Read the rest

Prison reform must address the needs of men and women who are reentering the work force after serving time in prison. Returning to your community can be as traumatic as going to prison when work opportunities are hampered because of a felony conviction. The idea that it’s a person’s conduct that’s bad, not the person, gets lost in the employment market.… Read the rest

AB 1008 Becomes Law in California

Assembly Bill (AB) 1008 is California’s extended Ban-the-Box law. It is an antidiscrimination employment law. I discussed the bill in Ban the Box and called for its enactment into law. The law is well intended but flawed. The reasoning behind Ban the Box is not complicated; it forces the removal of this question from job applications: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Without the question, it was argued, formerly incarcerated people can be evaluated the same as other applicants, without immediately being tainted by having a felony record.… Read the rest

Some laws are oppressive to low-income people facing criminal prosecution. An example is California Penal Code section 1203.016. This law, effective since January 1, 2015, enables California’s fifty-eight counties to deliver poor people to corporations that then profit from the human misery of these people, men and women who are charged with crimes and stuck in jail.… Read the rest

Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos is a book you absorb through your eyes and into your heart. This 176-page coffee table book is a thoughtful catalog of stunning photographs of formerly incarcerated people and their self-disclosures about their tattoos. Twenty-seven people are presented in two striking visuals: heavily tattooed and digitally retouched without their prison ink.… Read the rest

My prison flashbacks sometimes come in clusters in rapid succession. They bombard my thoughts. They’re not limited to a single experience; they stymie my routine thought processes and are like a running chill down my spine. Something triggers these memories; any sensation can kick them off. The memories are vivid, dredging up feelings buried deep in my DNA.… Read the rest

I learned about wants and needs in an economics class. Food, clothing, and shelter are needs; everything else is a want. Many wants are based on an emotional viewpoint, whereas most needs come from the realm of survival. Having a job is a want—a job is a want that fulfills basic survival needs.… Read the rest

Imagine this: You’ve served your prison sentence. You have little or no money. You’re looking for steady work. You know your record follows you, but you take a deep breath and dive into the job market hoping for a fresh start—a fair chance. One of the first questions on the job application inquires if you have ever been convicted of a felony—check the box yes or no.… Read the rest

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