10
Nov
15

john oliver on prisoner re-entry

John Oliver explains how hard it is to leave prison in America, provides happy ending

by Peter Weber, The Week
November 9, 2015

Getting out of jail is generally portrayed in the movies and TV as a happy event, he added, but in real life it’s often just a brief, confusing respite before going back behind bars. Ex-prisoners are often denied a whole host of government services—some you probably never knew about—and it’s hard for them to get jobs to pay for their survival on their own. Even for ex-prisoners who do find work and “are trying their hardest, satisfying the conditions of parole can be maddeningly difficult,” Oliver noted, backing that up with a video of an employed former prisoner named Bilal Chatman.

“It’s not always easy to care about the welfare of ex-prisoners, and some are going to re-offend no matter what you do,” Oliver said. “But the fact remains, over 95% of all prisoners will eventually be released, so it’s in everyone’s interest that we try to give them a better chance of success.” And—lest you think this is just another bleak look at another legal quagmire—he ended with a real success story, Chatman. Oliver never seems all that comfortable in his interviews, but Chatman is plenty confident, and the kind of subject you want to root for—especially since some of his coworkers did not know about his time behind bars before he went on national television Sunday night. Be aware, there is one un-bleeped-out reference to a “fuck barrel” early on.

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Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008.

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