Explain the notion of collateral consequences of incarceration. Are these “hidden costs?”
Collateral consequences affect the state and individual. For the convicted, being accused of a crime means a death sentence even though one is sent back to society. The ex-convict faces the real problem of being integrated into society and pursuing available opportunities (Mays & Ruddell, 2018). Equally, the rules governing convicts’ activities may prove counter-productive in the long run. Some costs are anticipated, but most are hidden, such as rejection, as the individual is unaware of the challenge of being accepted into society.
Undoubtedly, one would not expect to be rejected by society when they are cleared of any charges. Once cleared of any criminal charges, a person is set free. Unfortunately, the community does not view the person as entirely innocent. There will always be lingering doubts about one’s innocence. Moreover, there is fear that the person could now cause actual harm to society. Employers are wary of hiring such people, which society members fear being associated with them (Mays & Ruddell, 2018). For the cleared convict, the unexpected rejection could come as a shock because of the assumption that being cleared means that life can go back to normal.
Correspondingly, incarceration breeds crime. Ironically, instead of reforming the convict, incarceration hardens criminals, who turn to more crime when they leave prison. As a consequence of being rejected by society, who include prospective employers, the individuals lack social and economic support. Henceforth, they turn to drugs and other crimes to fund their lifestyles and even gain acceptance (Mays & Ruddell, 2018). Equally, tightening policies about where certain offenders raises the risk of them doing wrong again. Being forced to move from one’s residency exposes innocent people to a potentially harmful individual. Through incarceration, people face have limited options, which makes crime an appealing solution.
Conversely, some costs are self-evident. For instance, a person who has been convicted of abusing women in the workplace should expect to be denied the right of working with women or be closely monitored. Similarly, a repeat offender should anticipate more stringent rules concerning conduct when he/she leaves prison.
Some costs are anticipated, but most are hidden, such as rejection, as the individual is unaware of the challenge of being accepted into society. Although incarceration is good as it removes wrongdoers from society, these individuals prove more harmful and struggle to reclaim their position in society, damaging them for a long time.
Mays, G.L. & Ruddell, R. (2018). Making Sense of Criminal Justice. New York: Oxford University Press.