|As I See It - Hard Work and 2nd Chances - 8-24
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We live in a society that says it believes in giving people a second chance. The media promotes many examples, so we see and hear about second chances given all the time. A major portion of society is God-fearing Christians, Muslims, and others.
However, when it pertains to men and women in prison, suddenly, the idea of giving a person a second chance mysteriously vanishes. What happened to the old sayings, “Everyone deserves a second chance,” and “Hard work pays off.”
There are men and women in prison who have diligently strove for decades to prove themselves worthy of a second chance in society. They have accomplished college degrees, vocational trades and a variety of other training. Many of the educational, vocational, and other programs within prisons are facilitated by some of these prisoners. This group of prisoners live with the shame of their crimes, the harm they have caused victims, families, and their children. They understand the serious effects of their past acts, so they educate other prisoners attempting to prevent future crimes and their return to prison. For these reasons and reasons of bettering themselves, they have matured into compassionate men and women who are productive. Perhaps, it is their way of trying to make up for their wrongs. Regardless, they are men and women who will use their second chance for the betterment of public safety.
They have experienced verbal and physical hardships and abuses for decades and remained focused. They have maintained themselves through personal guilt, dying family members, denied appeals and paroles, broken promises, divorces, etc. They have survived verbal and physical abuse from fellow prisoners, prison staff, society, even family members and friends. Ironically, these idealistic men and women (prisoners) pride themselves for becoming better people for a society that disregards them and fellow prisoners who curse them for living right and doing the right things. They live with these personal frustrations and deal with these challenges maturely.
These prisoners do not expect special treatment. They have worked hard maturing into decent and respectful people, because it is the right thing to do. These men and women are in their late 40's, 50's, 60's, and older. If they were not in prison, their works would have earned them a second chance before now. Still, they continue to do good in a bad place. Prison administrations trust and believe in them enough to use them to maintain their prisons and prisoners. Some of these men and women are eligible for parole. Why not grant these men and women a second chance in society and allow them an opportunity to use their learned skills in society?
National Geographic produced a story/report on a group of male juvenile (young bull) elephants in Africa. The juveniles were coming into musth (sexual maturity) prematurely. Bull elephants usually begin experiencing musth when they have matured around age 25. However, theses juvenile bulls came into musth 5 to 10 years early. As a result, the juveniles were out of control killing rhinoceroses and bullying other animals, terrorizing villages, and displaying other delinquent behaviors.
The young bulls even formed gangs, much like juveniles in human society. It was later discovered that the juvenile bull delinquents were raised without adult male bulls' supervision and guidance. They had no examples of male adulthood. The other adult bull elephants were absent, because they had been culled from herds by professional hunters.
Professional hunters were hired to control the elephant population by thinning it out, thus leaving the juvenile bulls to raise themselves. Culling also prevented the older bull elephants from breeding. In some cases elephants witnesses the deaths of older bulls. Years later (10) when older bull elephants were reintroduced into the communities, the delinquent behavior of the juveniles ceased.
Some of the delinquent behavior witnesses during the late 80's throughout the 90's and to date can be associated with the absence of elders' supervision and leadership. If the absence of adult bulls' supervision and leadership were recognized in the jungles of Africa, why doesn't modern society recognize and use conformed prisoners in such a way? These matured and accomplished men and women are needed in society. Their return will benefit public safety. They have achieved all they can in prison. Therefore, keeping them in prison any longer is a total waste to all.
Special consideration should and can be awarded this group of people. The crimes they committed cannot be changed, but these men and women can, and they have changed. They have labored up hill within prisons for decades creating good in bad places. Naturally, they pray for their freedom. Their freedom is a goal they will cherish and never risk losing under any circumstances. It will also provide opportunities for them to fulfill their desires of making amends. They desire to live the remainder of their lives productively and as normal as possible. They have worked harder for public safety than the average person in society. They have also worked hard expecting a second chance to have the American Dream.
By Derek Lee Foster
30 years and counting.