I Was at work checking for new items on the system and minding my own business, a male customer approached me, middle aged and he introduced himself as Brett spears. Brett was very talkative and didn’t mind sharing personal information because he told me that he had just been released from prison a week ago and he was moving to a new place.
Brett had come to the store to purchase home items to decorate his place, between choosing duvet covers and lamp shades, Brett opened up about how he has been feeling lonely from the day he got out of prison. He continued to say that ” the past 7 days have been the longest days ever, I feel out of place and there is too much space in the world but I am not sure what to do with it since I am use to being in a small room “.
Hearing Brett speak these words, sharing his story with someone he had just met, made me realize that support is extremely important. Crime offenders don’t just fall from the sky into prison. They are also people like us and come from a community – they can be your brother, sister or child who has made a bad decision. Loneliness affects people differently, most people re-offend and end up back in prison because no one is willing to give them a second chance, support and believe in them. People need to get rid of the belief that ‘ once a criminal, always a criminal’.
Brett was in prison for fraud and theft because he stole money from his employers, but when he was released back into the community, that’s when he felt really imprisoned – when his family doesn’t trust him enough, when everyone treats him like a thief as they hide their purses and valuable belongings, when people whisper false rumours behind his back.
” if we truly want to make a dent in crime, we (as a society) should not shun former offenders because when we do, they simply go back to crime and continue the cycle “; explained Zamani Ndlovu.
The first step and possibly the best one is to accept and forgive the offenders. Encourage them to forgive themselves, help them find a job and give them a second or third chance.
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