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Ex-convicts locked up in unemployment post-prison

By Michael Margavitch, Columnist

When one commits a crime, they are sometimes imprisoned as a form of punishment. A certain amount of time is set for the perpetrator to be held in a prison, based on the severity of their crime. If, and when, a person who has been held in prison is finally released, this is supposed to be the end of their punishment. But is this really the end? In everyday life, regular citizens continue to judge former inmates for their past behaviors, to the point where it hinders the option to turn their life around for the better. It is not the sentence alone that acts as a hindrance to this possibility.

Presently, of all the young African-American men who have dropped out of high school, more than 33 percent are incarcerated.  Even worse, more young African-American high school dropouts are likely to go to jail than be employed. Often without the necessary education, compounded with a spotty record, these ex-convicts will find it nearly impossible to obtain a respectable job in this unemployment-ridden economy.

The stigma attached to a person who was imprisoned is more of a hindrance than the jail time itself. The sentence was served and the former inmate has moved on. The rest of the world has not moved on from judgment; They will always see a criminal.

Take a look at current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. He is playing better now than he did during his five-year tenure as quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. However, few people these days are paying attention to his skills on the field, because most of them concentrate on his infamous off-field antics of a few years ago.

Vick spent close to two years in prison for running a dog-fighting ring, which made him Satan for the people of PETA. When will people forgive him? Two years of his life were spent in prison, he was forced to declare bankruptcy, and he lost his house. What else does he have to do to make things right?

I believe this philosophy to be the truth in regard to all prisoners. They served their time, so they should be treated as a normal human; because every normal human makes mistakes. There should be no obstacles present in their lives based on our judgments of them. They were already judged for their crime by a jury of 12, and they have paid their debt. We need to learn to forgive a little more quickly instead of jumping to judgment as our modus operandi.

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