Making it out of prison alive is a success in itself.
Making a success of your life once you are out of prison is often a whole different story.
Registrants who are prohibited from using smartphones and computers, often those on probation, may find it a struggle trying to reintegrate into today’s fast paced techno- world without the proper tools. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to succeed in society without having access to computer technology that’s the norm for most men, women and children. For registrants, every day there’s some new challenge which requires the use of a computer that they can’t use.
Here’s just a few “for-instances”-
Job-hunting. Job classified ads in most newspapers are a thing of the past. Jobs are listed on the internet. Applications are on the internet. Sending resumes requires uploading, downloading, scanning, forwarding and so on. Responses to job inquiries arrive in the form of emails. Your chance to find a job, it’s all there on the web only you can’t access it. Instead, you may need to spend gas money you don’t have to travel to out-of-the way career centers that your P.O. designates as OK places to use monitored computers. There you can spend an hour looking for a job and tomorrow and the next day and the next, you can do it all over again. You don’t even have a job yet, but you’re spending gas money every day. The career centers are closed most weekends. If there’s a new job listed on the weekend, you’re just out of luck till Monday.
When you do find a job, chances are that your company benefits, paystubs, work schedule, emails and any company perks you are offered are all online. Being considered for a promotion? The need for a smartphone and internet access is no longer a suggestion, at many places it’s a work requirement.
House-hunting. For those who do still read newspapers, the Real-Estate section is short, very short. Listings for rooms, apartments and houses are all on the internet. When searching for housing, time is of the essence. Listings are snapped up in moments online. There’s time constraints when putting in applications and bids on housing. Emails and paperwork need to fly back and forth between you, your realtor and your mortgage lender. If you can’t get online how can you possibly compete with those who can?
Registry offices are closed weekends and holidays, even their weekday hours may be limited. Try finding a house or apartment when you must first call the registry office to check if the address is in a “registrant appropriate” zone. (There are zone maps that you could look at to find this information for yourself, however, those maps are located, where else, on the internet.)
Healthcare. Access to healthcare is online. Having the ability to research health insurance providers, different healthcare plans, doctors, it’s all online. Those big benefit booklets we all used to receive are a thing of the past, now you look up your benefits, claims and EOB’s online. Access to patient portals and your healthcare information is online. Scheduling and cancelling Dr.’s appointments, paying bills, completing new patient paperwork, all online. Tele-medicine chats which can save you midnight trips to the ER by having face-time with a Dr. via your smartphone, is out of your reach. You are denied equal access to this healthcare option and your trip to the ER will undoubtedly cost you more than a tele-medicine call would have.
Research. How do you know what’s going on with registry laws if you can’t research anything? Unless you have friends or family to keep you apprised of changes in rules, laws and proposals, you have no way of knowing anything. You can’t educate yourself. There’s no handbook for registrants that covers everything you need to know, there’s nothing that provides you with answers to all the questions you may have. The internet has a wealth of information and yet, it seems that registrants, especially new registrants that are on probation, are intentionally kept in the dark, denied access to the very knowledge that they should have.
There are so many other things that come up each day, little things like not having a phone book to look up numbers. Not being able to complete your own taxes on line. Not being able to check your own emails. Not being able to do your banking or pay your bills online. Hundreds of things that are done so routinely that most people can no longer imagine their lives without internet access.
As technology speeds ahead, many registrants are being left further and further behind because they are denied access to what has become part of everyday life, computers and the internet. If registrants are to succeed, they need to be given a level playing field and the same chance to fully participate in life as everyone else, any less is not acceptable.