In today’s society, one demographic of citizens is often overlooked, ex-offenders. The government and it citizens need to consider new ways to better society and solve local societal issues.
I am an ex-offender. I was incarcerated for seventeen years for a crime I committed at the age of seventeen. I was released on parole just over a year ago. In that time I have faced struggle after struggle, in an attempt to build a life for myself.
Employers are refusing to hire me, due to my past. There is a lack of funding to assist me, in my times of need. It is things like this that are obstacles for all ex-offenders after they are released from prison. It is these very barriers that often lead ex-convicts in returning to a life of crime, simply because there are no other options.
However, ex-offenders can provide a valuable resource for their local communities, if treated as individuals, instead of being grouped as one large demographic. Many of us have received extensive skilled job training while incarcerated. Many of us have learned to be excellent people persons.
Having had the time to live with members of society that the general population wants nothing to do with, I can understand the thinking style that produces the criminal element. Maybe, if we were given the opportunity and the public would allow us to assist in developing solutions to the problem that it presents to society.
If ex-offenders were given the opportunity to succeed, they might acclimate better into society. When one comes out of prison, they are in need of assistance and resources to begin building a new life. However, these things are limited for an ex-convict, and a successful transition into society is hard and very limited.
For over a year, I have struggled to find employment that pays a livable wage. I have needed rental assistance, twice, but was turned away. Discussions with government representatives are ignored.
Today I find myself facing eviction. Not because I do not work, I work over sixty hours a week, but because the trade skills I learned, during my seventeen years in prison, are useless. Also, employers are unwilling to give me a chance.
I stand to lose everything, once again. Not because of mistakes I am making, but because of a past mistake, still being held against me. All I ask is the opportunity, without it, I am struggling to make it.
One solution to this problem is to implement educational programs, focused not on teaching ex-offenders how to re-enter society, but on showing society the benefits of aiding them on their reentry.
By doing this and including ex-offenders in the program employers, governmental representatives, and the general public will learn about the problems we face, the type of people we really are, and the benefit we can be to society.
Opinion News by Marc States
Edited by Tracy Blake
Marc States: My Personal experience
Image Courtesy of Christian Wilke’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License