Kathryn Lindsay
November 09, 2015 5:56 am

The first time we learned about prison, it was presented as a place that people who committed crimes went to get reformed. By “get reformed,” we mean learn from their past mistakes and emerge a better person. In theory, this is what prison does, so why do so many prisoners seem to have more issues after they are released? John Oliver explored this in Last Week Tonight, and some of the revelations are startling.

Oliver begins the episode by showing clips from TV and movies that depict people being released from prison. It’s happy and joyous, and they’re met by friends and family on the other side, pretty much immediately assimilating back into real life.

That’s not the reality. In fact, many prisoners who are released end up right back where they started: in need of money, and having to resort to illegal measures to get it.

Why do they have to resort to illegal measures? Because their criminal record prevents them from getting hired. Even if employers say they don’t discriminate, checking that box that says you’ve been incarcerated tends to rub employers the wrong way, even though, if they believe in the prison system, released felons have done everything in their power to become reformed.

They also could end up homeless, either not accepted back by their family, or not allowed back into their homes at all, which is the case when it comes to public housing. Residents often have to sign a contract that says they won’t allow felons into their home.

Felons are pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place, and this is a serious flaw in our prison system. John Oliver explains the full issue in the clip below:

(Image via Youtube/HBO)

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