I've been to three events recently that have targeted released and soon-to-be released felons who are eligible for benefits. Erin and I spent an entire day in Circleville where parole officers walked their wards over to the Mobile Express to have their eligibility checked. Jerry and I did the same in Sidney. And Erin and I, with a VISTA volunteer (thanks, Zach!) made another trip to Marion to help prisoners who were to be released to the general public in the next thirty days.
The trip to Marion clearly illustrated that many convicted criminals don't have jobs lined up for when they are released. And the trips to Sidney and Circleville hammered that point home. Unemployment remains a huge problem here in the Buckeye State. Being convicted of a felony greatly exacerbates that. Work is hard to find, and unemployment can lead to recidivism.
So why don't any of the ex-offenders we see have food stamps!?
There may be no greater population in need of public assistance and yet this is the population most likely to be eligible for something they're not taking advantage of. It's a problem. Hopefully, our trips to prisons will give these soon-to-be released inmates a jump start on receiving the benefits that can help provide for a second chance.