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Do you really want to be “Anti-Crime”? Join us Jan. 31 at Second Chance Day on the Hill!

January 19, 2012
James Cannon at Second Chance Day on the Hill

Amicus Volunteer Recruiter James Cannon speaks at the 2011 Second Chance Day on the Hill

Post by Steve Nelson

One of our staff recently told me about an encounter he had at a volunteer recruitment event in a local shopping mall. He was staffing one of the many tables set up by organizations hoping to entice shoppers into learning more about their volunteer opportunities when a man came up and asked about Amicus.  Upon hearing that we work with Minnesotans with a criminal record, often helping them successfully reenter society after a prison sentence, the man shook his head and said “Oh now, I can’t get involved with you. You see, I’m ‘anti-crime!’

We both laughed  about that one.  In reality, I can’t think of an action that particular gentleman could have taken which would have been more “anti-crime” than volunteering for Amicus or getting involved with one of the other local organizations focused on reentry.

Conversely, there’s nothing out there more “pro-crime” than denying employment or housing opportunities, or even positive friendship to those who are leaving prison after serving their time. People involved with reentry know that not everyone we work with is going to make it on the outside.  Sometimes they go back into prison because they’re not ready to make the life changes they need to make.  Just as often though, it’s because they encounter so many closed doors, so many hopes unfulfilled, that, even if it’s just for a moment, they give up. It might be failing to call in to the Parole Officer or stopping by a bar for a drink instead of checking employment listings that day. It’s nothing flashy, but more than enough to send you back to prison if you have a record. Occasionally though, giving up can also take a more violent or desperate form.

Watching the “giving up” scenario play out way too many times is why I believe the most “anti-crime” stance on the planet is taking personal responsibility to ensure that the bridge to restoration isn’t closed to those with criminal records due to neglect and disrepair. Unlike those we see talking tough on tv news, protecting and enhancing that bridge is how we can be truly tough on crime.

We can support policies which give those with criminal records a fair shot at a job interview or the opportunity to get a lease on an apartment or house where they can find peace and recharge.  It doesn’t have to be easy, just fair – a process that looks at the individual, not just the crime. We can also ensure that judges have the discretion to see that some of the juveniles in their courtroom who have made a mistake don’t always have a public record following them into adulthood.

You can help do all that and more at Second Chance Day on the Hill on Jan. 31.  There’s a rally of all who believe in second chances in the rotunda at 10 a.m.  and it’s followed by opportunities to visit your legislators, strengthening their resolve to be fair to ALL their constituents, even the one in four of them who has a criminal record.  For more information and to learn about bus transportation to the event, check out the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition website –  www.mnsecondchancecoalition.org.

See you there!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2012 9:26 am

    Each one of us appreciates the benefits of receiving second chances. Giving second chances is a whole different matter all together. It means we have to dig in and give another person the opportunities we already enjoy.

    For an ex-offender it is the little things we take for granted, that have the ability to make a world of difference. A job for example or a roof over their head.

    I hope on January 31st each one of us recognizes and takes the opportunity to participate in bringing fairness to others so they too may have a chance at living a better life.

    Susan Mwarabu

  2. Terencio permalink
    January 26, 2012 7:20 pm

    “…they encounter so many closed doors, so many hopes unfulfilled…”

    So many truths in this statement. Without fear of credibility lost or integrity rescinded, I boldly admit that these words struck deep within my heart.

    Hopes ARE given up on; dreams ARE forgotten in the haziness of life after incarceration. Many groups and organizations offer great help but oftentimes the scars of defeat and failure go deeper than the touch of inspiration and hope. Counseling and mentors help with this roadblock. Both of which Amicus provides exceptionally well.

    Sometimes its more than just offering an opportunity or a hand out. In most cases its purely offering a method of healing and a hand up. One must believe that he was broken but can be whole again. One must understand that the paths they take must be the ones they make. One must have more than the promise of hope, but hope itself. And then they must know that they can trust in that hope when trust fails them elsewhere. I truly believe that Amicus is helping men find that trust. They helped me; even when it was hard to see.

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