Our mistakes can define us, or they can be a building block into making us better people.
Kentucky lawmakers haven’t agreed on much this year, but we applaud them for passing a bill that will allow the felony records of some offenders to be expunged five years after completing their sentences.
Those who commit violent crimes or sex offenses won’t apply for the clean slate, and that makes sense. But in a state that is seeing more and more drug addiction issues, we can only expect to see the number of felony convictions rise.
Personal responsibility cannot be shunned when it comes to breaking the law. People must acknowledge their wrongs and work to correct them if they want to avoid making the same mistakes.
But one of the biggest obstacles those who have been convicted of a crime, especially a felony, face is finding a decent job after they’ve paid their dues to society. And without gainful employment, those former convicts are left struggling to make ends meet.
You can see where the equation goes from here. A person trying to leave a life of crime behind them can’t get a good job because of past mistakes. Money gets tight, bills go unpaid, and suddenly those ex-convicts are headed back down the road that led them to breaking the law initially.
Beyond what lawmakers decide in terms of expunging records, it’s up to us to forgive. We should not give up on people because they have made mistakes. Employers should not immediately dismiss a job applicant because they have a criminal past.
The world is not black and white. Has that person been arrested recently? Do they appear to be making changes in their lives that will lead them away from crime? Are their references credible, and do they speak highly of the applicant?
These are questions that should be considered by an employer if a person who has been convicted of a crime applies for a job and meets the employment criteria. Instead of dismissing an ex-convict, consider giving them a chance to right their wrongs and become a productive member of society.
We also need to realize that drug abuse is an illness, like alcoholism. People who are addicted to drugs need to get clean and move on with their lives. They need help, not judgment. As the Daily Times’ series “Battling an Epidemic” has shown, drug abuse doesn’t know a demographic. It can rear its ugly head among the poor and wealthy, and anyone in between.
At some point, we have to break the cycle. We can help do that by giving people a chance to redeem themselves.
Glasgow Daily Times