By Diane S. 5/21/15
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
It wasn’t until recently that I realized what a powerful word ‘felon’ was.
I was like most of the rest of population of this country; that word didn’t affect me so I didn’t give it much thought. I was clueless to the power of this word. I was clueless to the stigma of this word. I was clueless to the effect of this word.
I am not as clueless anymore.
I am still very new to this word having an effect on my life. I know that I have much more to learn and I am aware a lot of it will come as painful lessons.
I am now married to a convicted felon. At some point in my life I will be living with an ex-felon (is that even a thing?). An ex-felon? See, I’m still so new to all this. I know that this will affect our lives until we are called home, it won’t be over in 8 years. I do have hope that the hardest part will be over in 8 years, but there will be difficulties well after that. My husband will be one of the more fortunate ones (God willing, meaning I am still alive and well at that point) and he will be coming out of prison to our home. I hope he will be able to find a job of some sort but I am not all that worried about that. I have 8 years to establish myself and get my finances in order so that we will be in a good place and ready to face those challenges. If he can’t find work for a while God will provide at that time. Honestly, I don’t give a lot of thought as to what life will be like in 8 years for an ex-felon because my hope is a lot of things will change by then and things will be better for someone coming out of prison and re-entering society.
Everyone needs hope, even if it is far-fetched.
A lot of people leaving prison have nowhere to go and the government doesn’t care, they are no longer responsible. These people, men and women both, walk out of the prison life they have lived for many years into another prison of sorts. They are free, but what now? What about the ones who have no family or friends? They walk out into their new freedom and into the unknown. I’ve never asked one personally but my guess would be that walking out of prison into a world all alone with nowhere to go is probably more frightening than the day they walked into the prison facility. That’s a total guess on my part, maybe I’m wrong. I would hope I am wrong. Their life won’t be controlled by someone else any longer. They have to figure out where they will live, how they will eat, where they will shower, try to find a job….the list is long of things that felons face once they “have paid their dues” to society in prison. This country does very a POOR job of preparing felons to re-enter the real world. Many articles have been written on this site about this subject.
This is on my mind today because one of our local news stations posted a story on Facebook last night about a woman who has been out of prison for 4 years and can’t find a job because she is a convicted felon. I know there are programs for felons to help them find jobs and I don’t know why this particular woman hasn’t had any luck with those programs. Her story was a bit “woe is me” but it wasn’t the story that caught my interest. It was the 500+ comments on the post that had my attention. It doesn’t take long when reading comments on a post like that to understand just how biased and uninformed the majority of this country is about prisons, laws, sentencing, etc, etc.
The comments from people who quoted a Bible verse to back up their OPINIONS were the worst ones. I always find it difficult to keep my mouth shut when people try to use the Bible as a basis for the hateful things they say and believe. Those folks must not know my Jesus. Many people truly believe that if someone ends up in prison they deserve any hardships that come their way for the rest of their lives. Many people believe in a system that is broken at its very core. Many people don’t believe that prison is a business and the government has more concerns than just “rehabilitating” people when they go to prison.
Many people don’t believe that the Bible says to love prisoners and ex-prisoners. I saw one comment that actually said, “What if they are in prison for doing something to your loved one, would you really want someone to visit them, give them a Bible and tell them about Jesus. The bible doesn’t mean visit those kind or prisoners.” It took a lot of will power to scroll by that comment and not voice my opinion in ALL CAPS! People believe that God can forgive but society doesn’t have to; they wouldn’t want an ex-felon working where they shop.
Gasp! The horror!
I’m trying to remember that most of these opinions are because people are uninformed and have never been directly affected.
I wish I could say that I have always had compassion for felons, that I have always been aware of the all these things. I can’t. I wasn’t. I didn’t care just like so many others because it didn’t affect my life. I started changing the day I started living my life for Christ, truly doing that, which was about 15 months ago. I was saved when I was 10 but my relationship with Jesus didn’t truly start until January 5, 2014. I started caring more about the hardships others faced, the felons, the starving, the persecuted. I cried at the news of the ISIS terror, my heart hurt for things it never hurt for before. I’m continually baffled by the many people who have a relationship with Jesus but don’t see the problems in this country, let alone across the world.
It’s hard to argue that this country doesn’t have a serious breakdown in the federal justice system. When a blind man can go to prison for accidentally downloading inappropriate photos that HE COULD NOT EVEN SEE there is a problem. The fact that a jury and a judge would send a man like that to prison speaks volumes and really makes me wonder if this is a battle that can ever be overcome. I am so very new to this and all that comes along with being married to a convicted felon. My passions are growing every day for these causes I never knew existed. My heart aches every time I read a news story that hits too close to home. Every time I read a post on this site written by Tony or any of the other guest posters about the hard stuff my heart breaks a bit more.
My life is just beginning to evolve with the new effects of being married to a felon, a sex offender felon at that. People look at me different. People will always look at my husband different. He will always have a difficult time finding a job. We will always have to be conscious of where we go, what we do, where we live and so many other things when he is released in 8.5 years. There will always be things we won’t be able to do and that’s ok, we will survive.
We will be together and we will survive.
I pray this country can change, laws can change, people can change, and a broken system can be fixed.
No single word should have as much power over someone’s life as the word ‘felon’ does