Letter: Have compassion for former inmates

Are citizens returning to our community from incarceration poor, broken and confused or are they immoral, malicious and unredeemable?

A citizen returning to our community could be a danger to society, and appropriate oversight and vigilance must be in place. This is the stance taken by the majority of society. As a society, our actions have reflected the belief that some in society are immoral, malicious and unredeemable. This has gone on for 50 years through the “war on crime and drugs,” a war that we are losing at an alarming level. We are losing not only the trillions of dollars we spend in this war on our own people, we are losing the people themselves, impacting their families, communities—indeed the fabric of society as a whole.

It is time to end the war on crime and drugs. As a first step, we need to change how we think of those coming home from prison and jail. Few of our citizens returning to the community from prison are immoral, malicious and unredeemable.

We should still keep ourselves safe from those who may do harm, but I suggest a fundamental shift in how we see those who are poor, have suffered trauma, are addicted to drugs and who commit crimes related to these conditions. The shift could save us billions of dollars and lead to a much better society. It is time to approach returning citizens with compassion and not heavy-handed justice because we see them as immoral and malicious instead of broken and confused.

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Greg Keesling

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