There are many ex-offenders in society, out of jail, but without a way through life.
How do we deal with this, partly to help them, and partly to keep society safe?
I am writing from the perspective of a Christian who spent about three years in a local jail ministry, meeting with detainees once a week in a county jail.
I also have 30+ years as a landlord who has worked with past offenders, and been a maintenance man for a county jail.
I have relatives who are ex-offenders and/or currently tied to the judicial system, due to strings of poor decisions, behaviors and anarchistic attitudes.
Ex-offenders can have a tough time of it.
They often have a record that keeps them from being bondable, which keeps them from being employable.
They get out of jail without reliable family or without family that wants to see them, by their own doing. Anchorless men are not helpful to society.
How do we facilitate the transition from ex-offender to productive citizen with opportunities?
They need the opportunity to earn the shelter and the food they need.
Let me propose an option that will be immediately revulsive to most people.
Study the 'workhouse' written of in Dickens’ ‘The Christmas Carol’. A horrible place then and there, but useful.
If administrated by fair people, it would have been better.
America used to have ‘poor houses’. I wrote about such a place in my middle-graders’ novel “The Mystery of Dallas County’. (unpublished).
Anyway, civilized societies often provide means for legitimate citizens who have legitimate needs.
Ex-offenders are needy, even if by their own decisions.
Trump’s economy is creating the need for more workers in America.
What if there were factories with modest housing available where ex-offenders could learn to work, learn to manage their anger and money and learn to navigate the adult world of free America? A combination of half-way house and workhouse.
A community with its own school with requirements for attendance to learn modern ‘adulting’
where ex-offenders young man provides for thenselves without relying on family (which may not exist).
This community would also have its own police force to sort out the easy stuff and help young men out of the county jail.
The community would have its own shops, minus alcohol sales, of course.
Two years of steady employment and schooling could release many of them to more mainstream American life.
The products they make in this very real factory should fund the operation.
While some will fail, other will have the opportunity to succeed that non-offenders consider take for granted.