Saturday, September 3, 2011

Michigan's Scarlet Letter

One of the first prisoners ever to receive assistance from HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, back in the days when the agency was still known as INNOCENT!, shamefully wears Michigan's Scarlet Letter. His name is on the sex offender registry.

Mr. J. sent me a curt message from his computer this week.

Yesterday, someone called my employer yet again...fourth time I lost a job in the last year because someone keeps calling my employers to tell them I am on the sex offender registry. Apparently the Scarlet Letter is alive and well.

Some steps have been taken to improve Michigan's poorly structured and poorly managed sex offender list. There are arguments for and against a state registry, but we have yet to see the perfect program.

There is no proof for this, but it seems like one could make a case that the state does everything it can to make it difficult for former prisoners to get a life in the real world upon their release. In fact, it seems to us that the state relishes the idea of getting prisoners to trip up. In a state where prison population is too high, and where budget is such a huge problem, you'd think that the state would do everything in its power to, one, adequately prepare prisoners who eventually will be released to make the re-entry successful; two, take all steps possible to make the re-entry smooth and barrier free; and three, prepare society in advance so that we know how to best help those freed prisoners in their difficult adjustment to a new life.

Continued steps to modify and improve Michigan's Scarlet Letter would be huge.

God bless those who are trying. There are too few of them, and their efforts are shamefully inadequate.

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