This letter is to address the social bias towards convicts and the average citizen’s idea that convicts are expected to re-offend when released. I am a criminology student learning at Camosun College, and I have seen an aspect of our society that poorly affects the rehabilitation process of convicts.
Today, we live in a society where we segregate people who have mis-stepped and deny chances to redeem themselves. It happens too often when someone has recently been released from prison, wanting to get back to a life of luxury and freedoms, and they are not welcomed back, but instead distrusted and neglected. It was not long ago when people were surprised and shocked that inmates were allowed the right to vote.
After applying for a job, during the interview, their prison record is brought up, and no matter how minor of an offence, it is put under the same umbrella as a serious crime. This affects all aspects of their lives. They are denied freedom of jobs, housing and travel opportunities.
If everywhere you went, people pushed you away and didn’t want you around, wouldn’t you go back to what is most welcoming and familiar? If you get along better with inmates than you do the average co-worker, wouldn’t you want to be sent back to someplace you were welcomed?
It is understandable for the severity of the offence, and even repeat offences, but when it is only a single crime and the criminal record alone is what inhibits you, it is unjust. This way of thinking is one of the reasons convicts will re-offend and stay in our prison systems. We, as a community, need to be more welcoming and encouraging to those who have made missteps. This is a vital step to where we, as a community, can make a positive impact on someone’s life.
We should provide more chances for job applications and housing, and look at what they are doing now, instead of branding them with what they have done for their life. If convicts are invited back into society and are given the tools to become outstanding citizens, then it would significantly reduce criminal re-offenses.
People today require more education on rehabilitation. Prisoners are people, just like us, and with proper treatment and aid programs, we can help them back onto the right path and help them recognize that they are an important part of our community.