American penitentiaries, in idealized Quaker imaginings, were to be a place for reflective penitence followed by forgiveness. That's not how it worked out, especially for the poor. And the problem goes far beyond prison reform:
Every year, more than 600,000 individuals are freed from America's jails and prisons.But many of America's formerly incarcerated people face numerous obstacles when integrating back into public life once free, according to Wes Caines and his former colleagues Scott Hechinger and Hannah McCrea at Brooklyn Defender Services, a public defender service in New York City. Former prisoners are routinely denied employment, housing, education, and other benefits that would help ease their integration into life on the outside, Caines says. For more read our Q&A with Wes Caines where he discusses his personal story of life after prison.
The shunning ex-cons experience is called a "social death," and it makes them harder to re-assimilate into society after doing their time. This makes it far more likely that they will re-offend.
The same denial of justice also happens to poor crime victims, especially when the person who committed the crime against them has the means to mount a costly defense.
• How America's justice system is rigged against the poor (YouTube / Vox)