Should Convicted Felons Be Given a Second Chance?
Should convicted felons be given a second chance? Barack Obama thinks so, and he thinks the tax payers should have to foot the bill. He made his view on this issue more than evident during a town hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio on January 22nd. Here is a excerpt from this Ohio town hall meeting, where a 29 year old felon who has never had a job in his life asks Obama if he will help felons get a job:
Jerome the felon asks Obama: “I’m 29 years old, and I’ve never had a job in my life. I went to jail when I was younger. It’s like hard to get a job as a felon. Is this — any programs that hire people with felonies like something that — because it’s sad, it’s like — 29 years old, I’m 29.”
Obama Answers Jerome: “Look, I’m proud of the fact that you’re bringing this up because there are people who’ve made mistakes, particularly when they’re young, and it is in all of our interests to help them redeem themselves and then get on a straight path. Now, I don’t blame employers obviously for being nervous about hiring somebody who has a record. It’s natural if they’ve got a lot of applicants for every single job that that’s a question that they’d have in their minds. On the other hand, I think one of the great things about America is we give people second chances. And so what we’ve tried to do — and I want to say, this has been a bipartisan effort — when I was in the Senate, working with Sam Brownback; my Vice President, Joe Biden — passing a Second Chance Act that helps to fund programs that help the reintegration of ex-felons. It’s smart for us to do. You know, sometimes people say, well, that’s just coddling people. No; you reduce the recidivism rate, they pay taxes, it ends up being smart for taxpayers to do.”
Shame on Jerome, if he really wanted a job he could get one. He is playing the victim card. In reality he is only a victim of his own bad decisions. Taxpayers already pay for convicts to be in prison, now Obama wants us to pay to get them a job? Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone(well, almost everyone) deserves a second chance, but it is not the responsibility of everyone else to provide that second chance.
Now before you start sending me nasty emails saying “you are stupid, and you just don’t understand how hard it is for felons to get a job.” Please allow me to stray from the beaten path for a moment and tell you a bit about my own experience.
I am a convicted felon. Five felonies to be exact. I spent the later part of my teenage years (15-19 years old) as a drug addict. Between ages 18 – 19, I lived out of the back of an Oldsmobile, and skipped around from job to job (i kept getting fired for some odd reason, hmm) to raise money for my heroin habit. I continued this pattern of living until I was finally arrested, charged with 9 felonies, convicted of 5 felonies, and sentenced to 1 year and 2 months in prison. One day, as I was sitting in my cell, I thought to myself, “this isn’t the life I want. I want something better, and I’m going to get it.” So I made a plan for what I was going to do when I got out, and I decided to use my time in there wisely by educating myself. I started studying college algebra, then moved on to calculus and finally computer science. I also applied for college while I was in prison, so I could attend as soon as I got out. My release day came, and guess what, I went out and got a job flipping burgers the next day.
I worked the early shift at my new job . Public buses didn’t run that early in the morning(in VA, if you receive a felony conviction you lose your license), so I walked to work, 5 miles, every morning. When my shift was over, I hoped on a bus, and went to the local community college to take a couple of classes. When I got out of class the buses weren’t running so I walked home, 4 miles, every night. This process repeated everyday for 9 months until I finally saved up enough money to pay off all of my court costs, and go through all of the red tape required to get my license back. When I finally got my license and my car back, I went out searching for a new, better job. I found 2 jobs. Who would have thought that a convict could get 2 jobs (Jerome couldn’t seem to find 1 in 29 years). I met a wonderful girl at one of these jobs, and we eventually got hitched! Fast forward 4 years and I am happily married, the proud owner of a brand new home, 6.5 years sober, have a good job, and I am almost done with a bachelors degree in computer science (I pay my own way through school, so I only take as many classes as I can afford).
I told you this story to tell you this. I know it is hard to get a job if you are a felon. I do understand. However, if you are a felon, you are not a victim of society, you are a victim of your actions. It is not the responsibility of tax payers to provide you with a second chance, it is your responsibility. In the United States there are infinite possibilities for a second chance, but you have to go out and get it. It will not come to you. Don’t let your criminal record hold you back, use it a lesson in life. If you work hard, pursue your dreams, and strive to be a good citizen, good things will happen. That is the beauty of liberty and freedom, you have every opportunity to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on the right track in life. How could you not love a country that has allowed a drug addicted, homeless convict to become a sober, homeowner, with a beautiful wife, and lives the American dream everyday. God Bless America!