John Oliver Slams the Criminal Justice System for Setting Former Prisoners Up to Fail


On Sunday, John Oliver dedicated his show to exposing yet another aspect of our broken criminal justice system, this time focusing on what happens to former offenders once they leave prison and attempt to re-enter society. As the Last Week Tonight host explained, it’s an especially timely issue that comes on the heels of the government’s recent release of 6,000 federal inmates once accused of committing low-level crimes.

“The fact that around half of people who leave prison end up going back is horrifying, but when you look at the challenges they face, it gets a little less surprising,” Oliver said. “In fact, let me walk you through what it’s like when you get out of prison—and let’s just start with minute one, because when inmates exit that gate to start a new life, they could find themselves in the middle of nowhere, with little to nothing in their pockets.”

Oliver then sat down with a former prisoner, Bilal Chatman, to help address the seemingly unending number of obstacles he and countless others faced upon leaving prison—starting with society’s negative approach to ex-inmates.

“People are judgmental—people that don’t know,” Chatman said. “I don’t want anybody to look at me as the ex-con. I want them to look at the person I am now. I’m a supervisor. I’m a good employee, I’m an employer.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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