Rehabilitation, by William Bethea

Special report. “Young black man, 28, released from prison visits parole officer on time weekly. Currently, he has two place of employment to provide for his family. He is attending night classes at a local community college to further his career. He pays his taxes, contributes to his community in a positive way, and is treated fairly by society.”

Now that is something you won’t hear depicted on the news everyday or worse, any day, because that matter in the pursue to change the masses defeated attitudes ! But I am sure you’ve heard the more familiar version. “A man released from prison commits another heinous offense. Authorities say, he has a very long criminal record, with convictions for various offenses. Authorities referred to the suspect as a career criminal.” Thus local residents are paraded before cameras to speak out with terms such as. “Authorities should of never released him, Authorities should lock all criminals up and throw away the key, Authorities should always be on parole altogether, There should be stiffer penalties and longer terms of imprisonment for criminals.”

This is very dis-heartening and further aids in building defeated attitudes to men who are currently imprisoned and trying with every fiber of their being, to rehabilitate themselves. so many prisoners just give up and resign themselves to a defeated life of knowing future imprisonment awaits them because there isn’t no real hope being built for ex-cons in society. It makes a hardened heart harder. I know this because I am one these men. Recidivism is a tendency to slip back into a previous behavior, especially a tendency to return to criminal habits and activities. (Webster Dictionary) It has never reached one hundred percent. Not every men released from prison is a recidivist, so why do we as a society, focus solely on the negative ones? We sensationalize them. It is that type of negative publicity that prompts politicians to run on platforms of “being though on crimes and making stiffer penalties, creating stricter guidelines” all to the detriment of the rehabilitation process. The political philosophy on criminal justice has always been. “How can we keep them separate from society?” I think we could be better served as a society if we created a slight shift in that philosophy. perhaps, we should begin asking “what can we do to incorporate ex-cons. The simple shift would go a long way as the first step for creating real reform in the criminal justice system. For this reform to take hold, we need to create a more positive image for the modern imprisoned person; something or someone for prisoners to look up to, to give the prisoner purpose, direction and hope. To give we the prisoner something for which to strive; the ideal that there really is a second change out there, awaiting us does matter.

To understand the despair felt by prisoners who are soon to return residents, we need only look to a notable example of reformed released ex-con now positive influence – Michael Vick. This is a man who was convicted of a crime, served his time and tried to re-enter society as a changed man. He re – started his football career and emerged as an all – star quarterback. But to date, years after his release and successful re – entry, there are still many who vilify him. There are those who say he should have never been given a second change that he should never be forgaven. If he is still looked upon as a villain, what hope do those of us who were not rich or famous before our imprisonment have of being treated fairly after re – entry?

In many states men and women, convicted of a felony, face a life long pattern of discrimination which mirrors the era that his or her great grandparents and grandparents faced within the era of slavery ! Ex – Convicts don’t have a right to vote, equal employment etc. We don’t have say in the law that will affect our lives nor the lives of our families, to whom we love and care about their further as well as none criminals do too ! But who better to know what works and what doesn’t in this criminal rehabilitation process than one with firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the system itself ?

A need has arisen to find a reform for this system that works. A need has arisen to find a way unburden a prison system that has become bloated. A need has arisen to re – incorporate ex – convicts back into society successfully, so that free men or women can former prisoners feel that positive step is being made for their worth. A need has arisen for society to become more forgiving and trusting of those being given second chances. A need has arisen… so what are we doing about it,


William Bethea
# 000371779-D / 684745

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