Green jobs fair at San Quentin State Prison. Courtesy of Kirk Crippens.

KALW Informant, a great quality news-site on criminal justice in the San Francisco Bay Area is asking the tough questions – The state could release 40,000 inmates soon. Where will they work? (Rina Palta, November 19, 2010) Palta has answers for readers too. The green economy.

I talked about the common sense behind green jobs for paroled and released prisoners in December 2008. Van Jones (yup, the guy hounded out of the Obama administration by the right-wing media crying Commie) posited before the nation’s economy tanked that social justice and environmental justice had common solutions. He was and remains right.

Palta highlights the mutual benefit for the tens of thousands of released prisoners and the State of California in a progressive, state-sponsored jobs programs and the expansion of the renewable energy industry. San Quentin Prison held a ‘Green Jobs Fair’ in August 2010.

Unfortunately, getting support for govt. stimulus is, these days, difficult politically; taxpayers may balk at the idea of putting taxpayer dollars toward work for felons.

However, unexpected or unpalatable for some CA residents, it would be wise to support former prisoners. It’ll save communities and save future DoC costs. California may be about to release 40,000 inmates based on a 2009 federal judicial ruling (the State of California has taken the case to the Supreme Court for appeal). That’s a lot of working age men with gaps in their skills and working histories. Train them.