After prison, what?

<p>D is enrolled in a curriculum that entails spending one day a week at a prison for incarcerated youth. It's a successful program and the young men earn college credit. Only the "creme de la creme" of the prisoners are allowed to participate. D shared her story with one young man who will be released in a few months. He is 17 and his first arrest was at age 11. He really wants to change his life around. </p>

<p>This young man would like to go to college and be a productive member of society. He wrote his life story and shared it with D because he felt her empathy. D is not stupid, she keeps her boundaries. His gang buddies are taking care of his sick mother and baby right now. The military is out because of his criminal record. Finding a job will be very difficult.</p>

<p>D is terribly upset at the criminal justice system that punishes but does not provide support when the sentence has ended. </p>

<p>I guess what I'm asking is, does anyone know what kind of government or other support this young man can get to turn his life around? He might be eligible for community college or other scholarships. What about $$ for rent, food, clothes? Mini, do you know of any aid agencies in Olympia?</p>

<p>Welcome to the paradox known as the correctional system. People always push for longer jail terms for various crimes and pretty much all places won't hire a convicted felon. This kid is only 17 though, so he might be able to get his juvenile record sealed when he becomes an adult. I know plenty of people in the military who had criminal records as youths. They used to sentence people to the army back during the Vietnam War. If he can't get record sealed, or if he is a felon; his work choices are limited to basically construction/trades or illegal activities to make money. It sucks, but that's just the way it is.</p>

<p>His chances for landing a good job will increase dramatically if his conviction isn't a felony. Hopefully, he won't be released directly to the "street". He <em>should</em> (as a juvenile) go from prison to a halfway house where he'll live and learn basic life skills of free people (cooking, cleaning, going out to work each day, coming back at a set time, etc). The halfway house will help him find a job (they usually have jobs lined up already, waiting to be filled). </p>

<p>Since he's so young, I strongly recommend a program called "Vision Quest".... <a href="http://www.vq.com%5B/url%5D"&gt;www.vq.com&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p>

<p>On the whole, there is almost nothing available for kids like him. (Believe me, I've looked!) Juvenile Justice systems in each state are supposed to do post-release planning, etc., but it is more honored in the breach. If any of the convictions were "as an adult" or involved even $50 worth of drugs to feed a habit, he is barred from college loans or scholarships for life unless he is in a state that has received a waiver. (Thank you, Bill Clinton - rapists, ax murderers, insurance executives that bilked billions out of widows are all entitled to the help, but the 17-year-old mother who sold $25 worth of drugs to feed her own habit, for which no help was available, is not.)</p>

<p>In some states, (usually in big cities), there used to be "Fortune Societies" set up just for that purpose. Government support in most places is virtually non-existent. In other places, the Quaker-based "Prison Visitation Service" will help, but we are few and far between.</p>