Offering ex-cons a work environment helps them, as well as the city.
In Philadelphia, a common theme lies among the history of those who commit most of the city’s crimes – they are, more often than not, repeat offenders.
The Mayor’s Office for the Reentry of Ex-Offenders (MORE) works to prevent repeat crimes. The office’s mission, as stated on its Web site, says:
“Mayor Nutter realizes that his commitment to improving public safety can serve as the catalyst to change the culture and perceptions necessary to promote successful ex-offender workforce reintegration … it will take the collaboration of strong regional organizational partners to achieve his overall vision for a safer Philadelphia and solicits your participation to help him achieve this objective.”
But in a city so ridden with crime, the office’s effectiveness is questionable.
Pennsylvania jails are overcrowded, and holding offenders in prison costs taxpayers thousands of dollars per year. The MORE is the best possible, near-utopian solution to this ongoing issue that plagues our city’s streets, but without cooperation from the city’s big businesses and organizations, the office’s mission is but an idealistic theory.
By hiring ex-offenders, giving them a shot at turning around – a way to make honest money, support themselves and stop the cycle of crime – Temple itself is doing its duty as an institution in the City of Philadelphia. This is also important as a neighbor of some of the city’s rough communities.
Of course, there is a stigma that comes along with hiring ex-offenders, especially for wary organizations and institutions.
Statistically, however, the MORE has served nearly 6,000 people, and it is proven that the rate of recidivism significantly decreases with post-incarceration job training and placement. According to the most recent U.S. census, conducted in 2000, Philadelphia had an estimated adult population of 1,133,610. Currently, according to the MORE Web site, about 298,400 adults living in Philadelphia are ex-offenders – roughly 15 to 20 percent of the city’s adult population.
Other city organizations, especially colleges and universities, should follow suit. The MORE is dedicated to the healing of the city’s people, but it falls on the city’s businesses and organizations to help supply the bandages.