One thing we all comprehend is that sometimes we all make mistakes and at times there are consequences for those mistakes. However, we are not so understanding about people who have a criminal record who are normally discriminated against permanently. Prosecutors and law enforcement can be very unforgiving and target these people with criminal records because it is normally an easy conviction because they can use evidence of past criminal history to discredit the person to the jury. This increases the recidivism rate of people returning to prison and the United States has a high percentage rate of people in prison compared to other nations. According to prison population statistics “The United States has the largest prison population in the world, with over 2 million.” (Stevens, M., 2013). Our criminal justice system clearly has room for improvement. According to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “America spends approximately 100 billion dollars a year on the criminal justice system…”(Stevens, M., 2013).
Although the American justice system refers to incarcerating criminals as a rehabilitation system, it normally works in the opposite direction increasing the recidivism rate and leads to bulging prisons. Once you enter the life of crime, it is very difficult to change your life. Employers deny these people good paying jobs, public officials and many people will always discriminate against them and if they remain in the same environment, they will always be tempted to cross the line by others. However, there are some who manage to break free from the life of crime to restructure their lives in a positive manner and may have used the positive options below to help them restructure their lives.
Education: Detention facilities offer inmates the ability to complete high school with a General Education Development test (GED), and even attend college and they should take advantage of these educational gifts that all people need to succeed in life.
Literature: Reading should be encouraged for self education to expand their knowledge to learn about themselves and humanity to become a better person. Self help books offer encouragement to hurdle the many obstacles in life our society has created for these unfortunate people who made a mistake.
Spiritual Beliefs: Every person should read the Bible at least one time before they make any spiritual decisions. The Bible is a guidebook for life that teaches a person how to avoid mistakes and make wise decisions. Free Bible College courses are available to inmates and will enhance their perspective, education and sense of right and wrong. The certificates of achievement or diplomas are a boost to their self esteem.
Heritage/Family History: Researching family history and our genealogy is a rewarding endeavor that helps you understand who you are. In our society of always trying to acquire what is new, we have forgotten the importance of history. History class is a dread for many students but it comes alive and is fascinating when you study U.S. Census Bureau records and see how your ancestors endured those trying times. Family is very important and should always be a priority as displayed below.
The reason African Americans fill up prison cells across our Nation is because of slavery. When we separated their families, sold their babies and took them from the only family they had – they lost their family heritage. Their family history is forever destroyed and many African Americans don’t know who their ancestors were. The result of high rates of incarceration for African Americans displays the importance of family. Family History is a key element for anybody who wants to develop self esteem and become proud of who they are and what they become.
American History: Every person should be proud of their nation. The United States has a rich history of wise and honorable ancestors to be proud of. People should study their nation’s history to help develop a loyalty, encouraging them to proudly abide by the law.
Environment: People released from jail should seek family help to relocate to a new location and environment to avoid bad influences that led to their problems. They need a fresh start to nurture and focus on themselves and their future, not their past. A rural environment will broaden their perspective and get them out of the fast lane of urban life, limiting the chance to make quick or bad decisions.
Agenda and Goals: A person should make a habit of using a written daily agenda of what they want to get accomplished toward long and short term goals to help them stay focused and positive on restructuring their lives. If they are not going forward in a constructive manner, there is a chance that they could move backwards in a destructive manner.
We all make mistakes and every person has the ability to change to become a better person. The government rehabilitation system does offer tools to help a person restructure their lives, but to succeed it will primarily be the responsibility of the individual and his family. It can be a very difficult process and this article offers some helpful tips to reduce the recidivism rate to help make our nation a better place to live.
Stevens, Max, (2013), “Prison population statistics” Retrieved from http://inhisserviceweb.com/prison_statistics.htm