It didn't seem to fit in
It is not news that American prisons are overcrowded, cost too much to maintain and warehouse men and women, many of whom should not be there. There ought to be an alternative for nonviolent, non-lethal offenders. Those being released from prison should be offered a second chance without the mark of Cain being stamped on them.
One step in that direction may be a recent story in The
Nelsen decided to interview the man,
Still apprehensive, Nelsen took a chance on the convicted burglar and hired him. Black is part of a work release program. His parole hearing is set for this month. Nelsen calls Black "my best worker."
Nelsen is not alone. As the Post reports, more businesses are starting to give ex-convicts a second chance. This is not some liberal "feel-good" idea. Even the conservative
Ask yourself which approach is likely to cut the recidivism rate, which remains especially high for those who can't find meaningful work: A spirit of forgiveness, mercy and a second chance or branding someone as irredeemable? The question should answer itself.
If he follows through on his promise,
According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), which compiles data on our criminal justice system, "The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails and 76 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers and prisons in the
One in five prisoners in the federal prison system is there for nonviolent drug offenses. At the state and local levels it is different and although most of the incarcerated are there for infractions unrelated to drugs, most states continue to arrest people for drug possession. As the PPI notes, "Drug arrests give residents of over-policed communities criminal records, which then reduce employment prospects and increase the likelihood of longer sentences for any future offenses."
The trend of hiring former inmates who have served time for nonviolent offenses should be encouraged. Most prisoners will return to society. Will society welcome them with a job and a second chance, thus reducing the recidivism rate, or ostracize them and increase the chances they will commit new crimes against new victims in order to survive?
Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.