No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
-Nelson Mandela

Many of us know someone that is locked up for different reasons. I come today to discuss this topic after the many people I have seen that have been locked up and forgotten about. Are these people really any different then who we are daily, are they the ones that possibly took it too far and now have restricted liberties. I don’t condone violence, breaking the law of any sort, but I also do believe that many people make mistakes and after coming out of jail or prison they are labeled (which doesn’t help them trying to get back to a normal life). All crimes hold a different punishment, but something’s ring similar to people and that is losing their support system while locked up.
Many jails and prisons have these people in areas with no air, no heat, and facilities with rodents. I am not saying they have to have a decked out spot, but not everyone there deserves to be without air, heat, etc. What it must be like to know you made a mistake and wake up in the middle of the night to find snakes, rats, spiders out and the guards aren’t willing to assist in securing your safety.

I have known so many people that lost it all due to their decisions. I am not saying they didn’t need time to get themselves together, but I wonder what it is like to lose your support team in the blink of an eye. Once a person loses it all and only has walls, cold bars, and a cot left to their name…does it bring them to reality? Do they struggle with how to recover and rehabilitate? Can it be done when everyone you cherished walks away? Why do people walk away? Is it that we don’t want to be known as the person that knows someone who sold drugs, caught while intoxicated (although there are a ton of people that do this and never get caught), or the ones that trusted someone that was not who they thought they were. 86% of prior offenders go back to prison within 3-5 years. This statistic sinks my heart. Many will feel that this is not their problem as people have to have a certain mindset. However, I can attest that many will never know the struggle of someone that has a record that will always be with them. NO matter their talent, what they bring to the table, it is 100 times harder for a prior felon to come up. If they are released and can barely get a job making enough to stay above the poverty line, limited access to resources, and the reality that you will re-live your past every time you attempt to better yourself. Every application, every conversation about your future, every time you try to do better and have to revisit this instance.

I know a guy that was a football star in high school. He was known and loved by just about everyone he came into contact with. Only to fall victim to sleeping with a young lady that lied about her age. (please refrain from making judgment, know neither of us were there). Along with losing your scholarship came with a parole violation. Only for this young man to be young and less focused and breaking his violation. Missing check ins with his parole officer that resulted in violation of parole. He now has a record, has done time, and everyone that praised him has walked out of his life outside of his immediate family and a few of us. His boys left his side as soon as that sentence came down. He was no longer left to be reminded of his great potential but rather the label of a predator. I knew this person fairly well. I have tried my best to keep and touch and even visit from time to time. I see him and realize that he has the will to fight on and faith in God that all will be ok once he is released. However, I was heartbroken finding out that all these people that had been your personal cheerleaders when you were doing well, have now fled your side. They don’t keep in touch. They don’t check on your mother. They don’t even ask those of us that know you if you are ok and how you are. This man is not dead; he is doing time for a mistake you can’t correct. Am I saying I think he shouldn’t do time… I can’t make that call because I hardly know all the details. However, what I do know was the result of the people that claimed to be ride or die and down for life.

I am not speaking of our hardened criminals that have molested kids, serial murders, etc. I am a firm believer that there is a battle on Earth daily between good and evil. In this battle, some of us fall victim to weaknesses, mental illnesses, and simply making a deal with the dark side. However, I do believe people can change if they honestly see the error of their ways and give their heart to God. I hear so many people quick to judge one that has done time or has a record without knowing the story. I am not saying it will make it ok or understandable, but it may be more relatable then imagined. My biggest question is where does the support go?? All the family and friends that cheered you on that now have stopped making visits, checking on you, and writing you. How do we allow our everyday lives to take over us and not remember that their mistake is no worse than ours that may not have been shared? We can make all the time in the world to watch reality television, kick it with people that aren’t offering anything positive, but can’t make time to give back.

If one could take a moment and think of what life would be like without God’s grace and mercy and our support systems, it would be pretty rough. Our support systems allow us to remember that through the mistakes we make, we are not forgotten. I have seen people get locked up that had so much hope and promise and within that moment, lost it all. Many would argue that they deserved this as they had to infringe on someone else’s liberty to make it. I ask you to stop and ask yourself, do you know their story. What they were going through? Did they need help and society turned their back? Did they make a cry out for help but the people that were normally there were not there? I am not making excuses, just curious?

I know there are programs in place to assist once a felon gets released. However, do we help them just enough to fall back into the same situation? Or do we truly offer enough for this person to see they can attempt to live a normal life with certain restrictions? Law and Order aired a show (many are based on real life events) where a man that got out of prison after taking the rap for his daughter’s mother’s father was a productive citizen. He worked two jobs, checked in with his parole officer as he was supposed to, and was trying to get back on his feet to be able to assist with his daughter. One day the little girl was kidnapped and the mother said he took her. Due to his past being sketchy the police went for him first. Only to find that he had two jobs and was hoping to see his daughter more. Later on it came out that the child’s mother had her kidnapped for random from the family to pay her husband’s gambling debit. The young girl’s mother ran off with her husband and left her little girl alone after the truth was revealed. The police and CPS offered the father full custody so the young girl would not have to go into foster care. The young man was overjoyed to have his daughter with him full time. However, the same day he got this news he shared with the cop that assisted him in this that he did not have a place to live where he could take his daughter safely. He asked how he would he get there with no assistance from someone to help watch her while he worked two jobs? The officer offered him money for a hotel room and told the man, he would figure it out. Later that evening, the officer got a call saying the young man tried to rob the hotel. They got there the man told the cop he had no way to care for his daughter and he was taken back to jail. They checked the gun he had and it wasn’t loaded. Later to realize his fear became reality that he could not care for his daughter with the label he had been given and without assistance in someone being able to watch her while he worked two jobs to try and provide a normal life for them.

I am simply wondering if a little can go a long way. Making time to visit that inmate. Asking the family if they need assistance with putting money on their books. Writing the person and making sure they know they are not forgotten. I know many will say they don’t have the money to assist, but is it that you don’t have the money or can’t do without that bottle of liquor for the weekend, those cigarettes (that are killing you slowly), eating out one meal less, or drinking a few less Starbucks a week. I am not trying to lay claim to your money and what you do with it. Do you wonder if a little could go a long way? Have you been that person that was only in need? Were you met with people being open about assistance or resistance?

Being in a prison or jail can be just as bad as your mind being imprisoned by your past. Many of us can’t seem to escape the whispers that remind us that the writing on our walls stay deep engraved in us no matter how many times you paint them. So are the people actually behind bars with limited freedom any different than the women that have been verbally abused for years and can no longer see herself as God sees her? Are they any different from the person you see on the street panhandling, but have no idea what events took place for them to there.
Some will say it is not my issue and I don’t know anyone in this situation. One day you may and I hope you can keep this in mind.

Can we rehabilitate one by IMPACTING1????

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