I am a convicted felon, I have paid my debt to society, so how is it I am still paying for what I did? Must I bear the stigma of being an offender forever? I have been working hard to be more productive, positive, and to better myself yet I am judged unfairly, even harshly, and cannot even gain meaningful employment because of my past actions.
Many people believe I do not deserve the chance to prove I can be an honest, contributing member of society. Many people believe I am beyond rehabilitation or redemption, that I do not deserve the chance to earn my rights back as a citizen.
I will not justify why I did what I did. I will only say it happened, I have paid what I owe, and want only to get on with my life. I ask you how am I to help create a better social order if that order believes I am not worth the cost.
Am I so awful that when I admit I have done wrong it justifies every opportunity to be closed to me? Should I not be given full and fair consideration in employment or anything else? When people find out I have been to prison all of a sudden their attitude changes around me. I feel I have to lie about my past and live in fear of the truth being revealed which only further reinforces falsehoods that I am not to be trusted. If I disclose the truth about my past admitting to my misdeeds I am automatically excluded from being able to do what I am capable of and that isn’t right. I ask only to be considered without bias of being labeled a criminal.
I believe most individuals return to a life of crime and become part of the revolving door of the penal system because of the stain of having committed an offense. How can one be rehabilitated, released back into the fellowship of the people, and not given a chance to prove oneself if it’s already been decided one is not trustworthy? Is it not the responsibility of the community to forgive and to give the individual the chance? Or is the ex-con always to be reminded of his convictions and never able to right the wrong?
I believe criminals give up their rights in a civilized society when conscientiously deciding to break the law and continue to do so. I also agree that once convicted a felon should prove one is capable of being reinstated within society, but the individual has to be given that chance.
I have paid my due to society for crimes I have committed. Should I not be given the chance to redeem myself, or am I forced to b e branded an undesirable for the rest of my life? Bound and condemned unjustly to repeat the same cycle within a system supposedly designed to reintegrate, but only stigmatizes because of biased and prejudiced views.
I am not proud of what I have done in the past, but I will not hide what I have done. I can be accepted as the person I am today or looked down upon for who I was yesterday, either way I will continue be more then what anyone thinks I am capable of being.
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