Today’s Editorial July 24: Help rehabilitate repentant offenders

We said in this space Friday that the community must get behind the Probation Aftercare Unit for staff for it to effectively do its job.

Today we’re going to broaden the definition of community to include the business community.

One of the major obstacles to the rehabilitation of offenders is the inability for those trying to turn their lives around to get jobs.

Time and time again offenders trying to get back on the right track return to lives of crime because they can’t get a job.

You see it almost daily in the courts when repeat offenders are back before magistrates.

Many times those trying to rehabilitate feel they have no other option but to return to crime to survive.

But we think that offenders under the care and supervision of the staff at the Probation Aftercare Unit should be given a chance at employment.

It is logical that those offenders truly trying to get their lives straightened out would be good employees, if not better than someone already on staff.

They have so much more to lose than other employees.

It seems that they would make it a priority to show up and on time; that they would work harder to prove a point that they are reliable and worthy.

Part of trying to rebuild your life after coming through the legal system is a rebuilding of self esteem.

Knowing that you can provide financially for your family is a pretty good self esteem builder.

There’s also a cost-savings to the community at large when an offender going through the process of rehabilitation is able to get and maintain employment.

Firstly, they’re not sitting in prison eating, sleeping and living on the Government dole.

By giving them jobs employers are paying them wages, some of which, after paying the bills, is disposable income.

That income goes back into the economy when they buy goods and services with the disposable income.

Rehabilitating offenders who have jobs are able to buy clothes for their families and put food on the table, keeping those families out of the Family Services system.

When the entire community works together to help the Probation Aftercare Unit staff, it is more likely that families can be kept intact.

Staff at the probation unit has as its mission to reduce the incidence and impact of crime through education and rehabilitation.

The staff’s job is to help offenders become more productive citizens while reducing the level of offending behaviours and public safety.

They’re not going to put someone in a job who isn’t going to perform, and perform well.

And if there are problems with the rehabilitating employee, staff of the probation unit is there to step in.

So while it may appear that hiring a rehabilitating offender is a gamble, we think it is one that businesses should be willing to take.

We believe that taking that gamble could make winners of everyone.

We all make mistakes.

Some people’s mistakes just happen to end them up in the judicial system.

But those who have a truly repentant heart should be given a second chance by the community as a whole, including the business community.

After all, a human life is a terrible thing to waste.