It has been the said that the American dream is to be able to make it in this country despite the odds you face. However this dream seems to be lost on the unlucky souls in our jails and prisons.
Inmates have always been seen as lost causes who are looked down on by the rest of society. We choose to punish them accordingly, and leave them alone once their term is done.
Not once does it occur to us that these men and woman could still be taught how to better themselves and the community around them.
They have made mistakes that will forever leave them labeled as outlaws and criminals.
A criminal record will be on every job application they fill out, and every report until they die.
However, this was not always the case.
Years ago the outcasts and criminals of society were given a second chance on life by coming to a new land.
Their hard work and determination helped create colonies and communities that flourished. They were forced to rehabilitate themselves to better the community around them.
Today's criminals, however, have no where to go. Inside our prisons, they must focus on surviving a dangerous environment often filled with gang activity and violence.
Outside of prison, they must adapt again to prevent themselves from falling back into habits that lead to their arrest in the first place.
When prisoners exit a correctional facility for the first time after their sentence, they are faced with a once friendly world that has suddenly become much harsher.
Without proper supervision and guidance to help, only those truly focused on changing who they are will prevent a growing trend of first offenders becoming returning offenders.
It's not a small number who face this situation either as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that 95 percent of inmates will be released to society.
This includes people who regret the mistakes, served their time, and wish to change the circumstances of their life.
Not every person deserves a second chance. Some have lost that gift and will never have it again, but those who want to change need help.
Their rehabilitation should consist of reintegration with society. Business opportunities to help them on their feet and guidance so they don't fall back into old habits.
Once we start treating them as normal people, they can live just like you and me.