Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Watching Breaking The Cycle on Netflix and how differently we treat inmates in the United States versus that of Norway as well as a prison in North Dakota which is working on changing their policies on how inmates are treated.
What struck me the most is inmates in Norway are treated like human beings. They did not have cells with bars but private bathrooms and refrigerators in their rooms. This was maximum security by the way.
Why do we handle inmates like animals only for the inmate now to respond like animals in return?  We Americans live in a society of revenge.
Of course if someone does something terrible to you or your family you would not be happy the offender was living in a comfortable, positive, and real rehabilitative environment.  Yes, we should be mad if that is the case.  Yet as one warden said “we are in the business of correction and rehabilitation, not revenge.”
Most inmates in America will be released, they will be your neighbors. Do you want an inmate who is oppressed and treated like an animal? Or do you want a rehabilitated member of society who has the ability to give back?
I think if we want to become a better society, a safe society, and one who cares about people we can start by looking how we treat inmates.
I believe most offenders given the right opportunities will become better people.  The warden from the United States also made good points, he was very sympathetic to the views of the warden from Norway. He stated many inmates return to society with no homes, no jobs, and little hope.
In the United States we create felons for life. Employers do not rush to hire felons many large corporations have strict guidelines against it. Instead the felon is stuck doing menial work, or they go back to crime.  What a waste of talent.
I say this all because it is near to my heart I am a felon. I never have been in prison, but I do face the stigma of being labeled. While it has been over 7 years of trying to develop myself and give back to society I have had to work very hard.  At first no one would hire me. I am thankful I am a veteran and had thousands of dollars for school. I earned a Bachelors, Masters and next year will be working on a Doctorate.  I also have had an amazing support system. My family has been amazing. I have had a powerful drive to get ahead and make a difference in the world. In some ways for me being a felon has created a better me.
This is not the case for most returning inmates. We need to do so much more as a society.  Hopefully I will be in a position to do more myself.

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Thinking about the recent crime wave in the Quad Cities I asked myself what could I do as a citizen?  How can I better understand what brings about such crime. My two thoughts were that of hope and poverty.  We all can find ourselves in what seems to be hopeless positions. For some It may seem impossible to wrap our minds around actually making something of our lives. I know, I have been there.  

Hope, is a tangible goal, a reason to do something in order to gain your desire. Hope gives you motivation to live a life to bring about your desire. Hope says despite the situation there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yet when one has no hope trapped in the grip of poverty, one may take an identity that leads to destructive behavior to both self and community. 

It truly does take a village. It takes the cooperation of business leaders, politicians, clergy, and lay volunteers to help bring hope to who some labeled  hopeless. To bring life to those whom some say, lock up and throw away the key.  

Yes jobs are important, jobs that pay a living wage. Greater than that is finding a passion a purpose for existence outside of the criminal activity so many of our young people are pursuing and dying over. The Bible state’s in Proverbs 29:18 “Without a vision my people perish.”  Our young people lack vision, many only see the cycle of poverty, drugs, and correctional institutions.  

Let us as leaders and willing participants reach out and be empathetic to those who at the moment lack hope. They are not forgotten, let us do our best to plant the seed of a positive vision, and to volunteer in local organizations. 

When we don’t allow people to realize what they can be, they won’t become anything but what they believe.  The problems of drugs, gangs, violence, and poverty are not corrected through prison walls but rather through praying hands and feet willing to work to make a difference. 

Let us create vision, share it and not be intimidated but instead retaliate with the love of Christ and the hope of a better future for each individual within our community.