Faith-Based Program Only Part of Solution

July 6th, 2011, bySean Nixon

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas regards himself as a compassionate conservative in his state, despite his critics, and with good cause. He wants to stem the high recidivism rate of ex-felons by working with faith-based re-entry programs as a way to not only help former inmates, but shore up a lagging state budget.

From a government standpoint, I think Gov. Brownback’s plan is a great idea. However, I think he should also work with members of his state’s legislature to see to it that ex-felons are put back on a path that includes having questions of felony convictions removed from job applications.

Why should the governor take this approach? I’ll give you three reasons. First, having the assistance of faith-based programs and mentors won’t fully solve the problem. You need the power of government to help change the overall apprehension and stigma of hiring ex-felons.

Secondly, having the question of an applicant’s criminal history on a job application blocks even the most qualified applicants from getting a fair shot at a job they desperately need.

Third, by neglecting to put the full resources of the state behind such a program, the governor not only falls short in making good on his statewide goal, but makes the workers heading these programs appear as if they don’t have the power or skill to make positive changes in people’s lives, when they can and often do.

So, while I’m a fan of prayer, I know prayer alone won’t solve this problem. People in positions of authority and leadership like Gov. Brownback must take things one step further to really provide these opportunities, so that the recidivism rate is lowered. If the governor takes this approach, he’ll not only meet his goal of reducing the high recidivism rate, but actually live up to the true title and definition of how he sees himself: A compassionate conservative.

Should Gov. Brownback work with legislators to ensure the recidivism rate is lowered in the state of Kansas?

  • Todd

    I was in the process of reviewing Governor Brownback’s Mentors 4 Kansas program. One thing jumps out at me. I deal with people everyday who are looking for jobs but they have a felony on their record. And they probably have other social issues, low self esteem and really struggle to get a job…….any job at all. A mentoring program would be great for these people BUT!!!!! These are convicted felons who have never been in prison. Some have not even been in a county jail. Therefore they don’t qualify to be a part of the Mentoring 4 Kansas program because it only addresses those who have been in prison and are working to be released.
    Prison crowding, changes in our laws and courts have left many, many people in limbo. They have a felony record that scars them for life and prevents them from getting employment. At the same time they have never been to prison so they lack any programs or assistance to help them move past the stigma of a felony record, gain employment, build up self esteem and move forward in life.

    Because they have fallen through the cracks in the system they are probably closer to doing something more serious and ended up in prison for something far worse than their original crime and conviction.

    What is being done for these people? Our budget shortfall and gaps in the system are swallowing up people and their families.

Last modified: July 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm