#Human Rights
Governor Mark R. Warner
United States of America

By the end of 2001, a record 6.6 million people were in the United States correctional system. One in every 32 adults was either in prison or on parole. Almost 4 million people were on probation at the end of 2001, up 2.8 percent over 2000. The prison population grew by 1.1 percent, the smallest annual increase in nearly three decades.[1]

The increased number of prisoners has resulted in increased numbers of released prisoners seeking to reenter mainstream society. This is creating a major social and public policy problem in the United States. People enter prisons poorly equipped to be productive members of society and they typically leave prison in worse shape than they enter it. The problem of recidivism is partially due to this poor preparation for the world outside of prison. Ex-offenders cannot find or hold jobs and before long many renew a life of crime and are returned to jail.

Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington think tank that follows criminal-justice issues, said the laws are taking jobs away from people who served time for their mistakes and have since put their lives back together.

"You have lots of felons who were convicted 20 years ago and who haven't been involved in a crime since," he said.

The vast majority of those in jail do not present a direct, violent threat to the average citizen. Many are drug addicts and dealers, and a large number are illegal aliens. Hardened, violent criminals are a minority of those incarcerated. Unfortunately, the conditions in prisons themselves and the stigma of having a criminal record often lead those incarcerated to increasing levels of anti-social behavior.

What happens to those of us that have complied with and have truely been rehabilatated? We deserve to work and take care of our families. After all, we paid our debt to society.

We, the undersigned, are petitioning the Virginia General Assembly in an effort to have them amend the current laws as they stand, to allow the appropriate state agency to erase/expunge from their records any bars or barriers to employment, people who have served their sentences, and completed either parole or probation completely and successfully to allow them to seek meaningful employment without the limitations that are placed upon them because of their ex-offender status.

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The Virginia - We have paid our debt to society. petition to Governor Mark R. Warner was written by G C and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.