Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What is a re-entrant?

Our mission at LifeLine to Success is to change society's perception that everyone that has been convicted of a felony is a "bad seed" and needs to be feared. That stereotype is a significant contributor to the rate of recidivism in our community. Society would like to lay all of the blame on the individual that commits the crime, but it (society) doesn't want to look in the mirror and realize the fact that it (society) has its own burden of blame to bear. The stigma that is currently attached to that term, ex-offender, puts even those that have changed their ways and become better people because of their indiscetions in a compromised position. Jobs become harder to find, applications get thrown in the trash (not even considered), and apprehensive attitudes suddenly appear.

When the term ex-offender is heard, immediately a negative image is flashed through the mind of the hearer. In order to remove that knee-jerk negative image, a new term needs to be used- a term that shows a distinction between a common ex-offender that has no desire to change his/her life and one that has made the decision that a life of crime costs too much and is not the direction one's life should take. We have introduced the term re-entrant to assist in the transitioning of the negative perception that all ex-offenders are bad and should be locked away forever. Prison can actually be used to train a workforce of dedicated, hard working individuals that appreciate life because theirs had been taken away and now they have it back. Prison can become a place of preparation where those that may not have had "home training' and life skills taught to them at home can receive those skills. After all, it is called the Department of CORRECTION.

What is a re-entrant? Re-entrant- an ex-offender that has made a conscious decision to change the course of his/her life by making positive decisions that will produce benefits to themselves and their community. A life of crime is no longer an option for a re-entrant. Some may not totally understand the need for this term because an ex-offender will always be an ex-offender. Giving a person a new identity begins with a new name. This term is an identifier, not a sugar coating or a whitewashing. By definition, a re-entrant is an ex-offender. That doesn't change, but it gives the ex-offender an immediate sign that a change has occurred and now he/she can begin to live out the defintion in their daily lives.

Allow me to illustate my point. Christians believe that we are all born in sin and are by definition sinners. And we remain in that state, until we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When that occurs, we are no longer sinners (by definition) but we become saved or saints. We still commit sin, but we are no longer identified with the sinners because we have made the decision to change the course of our lives. When people hear that we are saved, they expect us to live a certain way. The same rule applies to the re-entrant. If an employer hears the term re-entrant, his/her mind should expect a level of dedication and integrity that surpasses that of the average citizen because the re-entrant realizes that this could be the last chance. Perception truly is reality. So let's change the reality.

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