As Prisons, Education and Work points out, our prisons are filled with people who had good intentions, but finding themselves broke, were forced to return to crime. The ex-prisoner does not necessarily choose between work and crime but rather, because crime itself is a form of work, chooses between legitimate and illegitimate work. Ex-prisoners have the necessary skills for this illegitimate work and are rewarded not only economically but with job satisfaction as well.
Prisons, education and work: towards a national employment strategy for prisoners
Australian Institute of Criminology