Release from prison often equals continued marginalization.
You can do your time but release does not guarantee that you will be playing on level playing ground as others or have equal opportunities.
In fact for some that get out of prison the disadvantage is such that it becomes an insurmountable handicap.
A friend and mentor of mine had recently been released from prison after serving about 22 years.
He is one of the most humble, hardworking, and devoted people I have ever met.
When his release date drew near, he had such a thorough release plan that it seemingly appeared to be fail proof. A release plan that became a blueprint to many men that were headed back into society.
What he was unaware of, and was never informed of, was the discrimination that he would have to face. The inequality he would have to face.
At about the tender age of 20 he was accused of a crime that he did not commit and to this day maintains his innocence, and yet, at nearly 43 he is out of prison and still suffering from the conviction.
At nearly 43, as he integrates back into society and gets readjusted to the technological advancements of the past 2 decades and the warp speed pace of life outside of prison.
He finds that he will be facing monsters that he could not have been prepared for.
One such monster was the residual effects of being deemed a FELON.
Prior to release he and his wife purchased a new condo.
And she prior to his “date” inquired about whether his status as an ex-felon would effect them at the residence if they were to move in.
She was assured that it WOULD NOT.
So while he is preparing for release, she is preparing their new home.
Once he arrives home to a warm welcome of family and friends. His reality turns ice cold as they are notified that they will have to leave their condo immediately because he is a felon.
The Home Owners Assoiciation only looked at one thing and made their decision based on that. Not looking at the person but the felon label that has branded his life.
After reneging on the earlier assurance.
The Association went through the formalities and held a panel review but as he put it, from the moment he stepped into the room “their minds were already made up, it felt like a parole hearing”.
They did not look at the volunteer work he does.
The community outreach and public speaking.
The fact that his children have either graduated college or are currently in college.
And, they especially didn’t look at the fact that a year out of prison he already holds a management position paying about $50,000 a year.
They could not see the loving father, the community activist, the consummate professional, the responsible adult, or even the human.
No, they could only see the word: FELON
When is a debt to society ever paid, if one has to forever live in the shadows of a society that continues to condemn them?
If one must be branded in such a humiliating manner, why not just mark all felons with a scarlet letter.
But instead of an A for an adulterer, we can replace that with an F for felon.
It is sad that 24 hours is more then enough time in a day, while 22 years is hardly enough time in prison for society to welcome you back.
And we wonder why recidivism rates are so high?
Because TIME IS NOT ENOUGH!
Categories: Cyril D. Walrond
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