The Pursuit of Happiness – Denied
Why do I believe you should hire a felon? It’s been said that when somebody has something to prove, they will move mountains for you. How much does an individual coming out of a situation such as prison have to prove? Plenty. Not only to you as an employer, not only to society in general, but also to his family and everyone else who doesn’t believe that someone who has been imprisoned can make anything of themselves in life. President Kennedy stated in an article titled, Address to the American Newspaper Publishers, "An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it. We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them” (Kennedy). Why should anyone feel that any individual who has made an error in their life be denied the opportunity to provide for his or her family? Do I believe that this is an error? Yes, and I plan to point it out. Why as a country would we not want to prevent a relapse of criminal activity in all communities? Is it because it’s not your community? We need to look at it from all perspectives, not just our own. Most people in prison think, that when they get out, all they want to do is get a job. Some felons feel that if they can work the kitchen in a jail and make a dollar and fifty cents a day, then it is definitely possible to make it out there doing it for seven to nine dollars an hour”. Convicts or felons, whichever is politically correct, don’t ever want to go back to prison. All they want to do is have an opportunity to do something different. After spending a while in prison, most people would naturally start to hope for something better, but yet we deny them the opportunity. There are several laws and acts that have been put into place to keep those who have been in prison from improving their quality of life. For example, there are laws that keep people from obtaining other types of housing, forcing them to remain in public housing, if a tenant or anyone in their home has a drug conviction or has used drugs in the past. Also, an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1998 suspended eligibility for grants, loans, and even work assistance for students convicted of drug-related offenses. Another was the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, passed in 1996. This particular act permanently bars those with drug-related felony convictions from receiving federal cash assistance and food stamps during their lifetime, unless otherwise specified by the state in which the offender resides. This is not limited to, but also includes, suspensions form participating in voting, and obtaining business loans as well. They can’t vote, but have to pay taxes. “African-Americans make up 14 percent of drug users, but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses.” (Drugpolicy.org) Whatever happened to forgive and let live? This country continues to keep felons down by discriminating against their prior discretions. As a nation we need to give them that spark, so to speak. These individuals already have the willingness to do better things with their lives; they just need to be given a chance. It will be this opportunity to work that will make a relapse less likely to occur. If it was a family member wouldn’t you? I would. Honestly, I would like to know what our country expects to happen when we lock any felon/ex-con out and continue to purposely block access to the general resources they need. We prevent them the opportunity to acquire something in regards to the “quality of life”. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to keep someone from living honestly. Your opinion may be different because you may not know anyone who has been in prison, but honestly wants to make better choices than the ones that landed them in jail. Granted, many people are biased because they don’t know a convicted felon personally. They make their assumptions based on...
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