File photo of prison bars
Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

Georgia governor, federal prosecutor promote documentary on felons re-entering society

The U.S. attorney for North Georgia and the governor said employers need to do more to help recently-released inmates find jobs so they can be successful.

“The best criminal justice reform is education reform,” Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday moments before the premiere of a documentary produced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta.

He noted that 70 percent of criminals entering prison did not graduate high school and they also do not come in with any “marketable skills.”

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A lack of education and work training, combined with a felony record, means the “likelihood of getting a job is significantly reduced,” Deal told about 550 people who came to the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University to see “RELEASED: When Does the Sentence End?

Georgia has eliminated the question about felony convictions on state applications for employment and licenses, but it is still an obstacle in the private sector.

Sentencing reform Deal has pushed over the past few years has meant that state prisons today are holding 6,000 fewer inmates.

U.S. Attorney John Horn said his office produced the documentary to make a point to employers. The 45-minute film included interviews with former inmates describing the problems they faced getting jobs and their fears of failing without employment.

Horn said helping them get an education and job training would benefit all of society, not just the felons.

“People we are putting in prison are people who will someday ... return to our communities,” Horn said.

If released inmates return to crime, that means more victims and more costs to taxpayers to prosecute and continue incarcerating them “over and over.”

Horn said it costs the state $118,000 each time a felon commits more crimes and returns to prison.

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