I try to be a forward-thinking person and I definitely believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, if possible. Heck, I’ll even go out of my way to avoid killing a bug. Well, there are exceptions to the bug squishing—those gigantic prehistoric Palmetto bugs deserve all the squashing, smashing, and foot-stomping I can deliver. They give me the creeps. So much so that I’d almost choose to face a knife-wielding serial killer than one of those hissing, flying creatures.
And yes, I know it’s tough to avoid mistrusting a known bad guy when working as a police officer because cops deal with the folks whose mere existence is surrounded in some sort of doubt nearly 24 hours each day. Still, I try.
But there is a limit to how far a person could and/or should go. Yet, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco has, with all due respect, lost their ever-loving minds. They’ve gone bat-&%#@ crazy, actually, and I cannot in good consciousness give them the benefit of doubt, because they’ve boarded Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train, and at this point in time are speeding along the tracks heading straight into the Twilight Zone.
Here’s What They’ve Done
To avoid labeling criminals or hurting their feelings, including those crooks who’ve been convicted of various crimes, the Board of Supervisors have spent hours coming up with a resolution to assign new names for bad guys, the crimes they’ve committed, and other areas of criminal behavior.
If this resolution is passed, no longer will San Franciscans be permitted use the term “convicted felon” when speaking of a mass murderer who’s served his time and is released on parole. No sir. Not in San Francisco. Instead, Carl “The Butcher” Jenkins must be addressed as a “justice involved person.” If The Butcher whacks up another victim while out on parole, the Board of Supervisors now insists that he and other repeat offenders be called “returning residents” once they’ve served their time and exit the prison for another try at life on the outside.
Going forward, a juvenile offender in San Francisco must be referred to as a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.” Drug addicts, according to the resolution, are “a people with a history of substance use.”
The 10 supervisors who voted in favor of the resolution argue that because 1 in 5 Californians has a criminal record, “words like ‘prisoner,’ ‘convict,’ “inmate” or ‘felon’ ‘only serve to obstruct and separate people from society and make the institutionalization of racism and supremacy appear normal.” Being labeled as a convicted felon, they say, brands for life, the formerly state or federal housed separator of human limbs and/or vital organs.
The resolution states that by assigning negative labels, such as convicted felon, the returning residents are wearing a scarlet letter they can never leave behind.
After reading the article about this relabeling effort in the San Francisco Chronicle, I thought…hmmm…perhaps I should come up with a few new terms of my own to replace some of the current ones that could offend and . Such as…
Kidnapper – person who relieves family of added burden of extra mouth to feed.
Arsonist – person who assists firefighters with real-life on the job training.
Burglar – second shift housecleaner responsible for the first step of rotating valuables in safes and jewelry boxes.
Embezzler – person skilled in reverse accounting.
Prostitute – stress relief expert.
Pimp – employer of stress relief experts.
Murderer – population control expert.
Okay, this silliness could on and on and on. But the real solution to removing the scarlet letter and stain on a convicted felon’s record is to provide attainable but stringent goals for them to achieve. And once those goals are met they’re able to first regain/earn their lost rights, and then move toward clearing their record after, say, a decade or so of a stellar lifestyle. Of course, I’m not speaking of career criminals and violent offenders. Instead, I’m addressing first-time, nonviolent offenders, for example.
Until this is done, a real second chance, the scarlet letter will always remain attached. They’ll always feel unclean and not worthy of living a decent life. They’ll forever be forced to work menial jobs because most employers won’t hire a former prisoner, and those who do rarely trust them.
Convicted felons are are barred from obtaining employment and/or licensing in certain fields in certain states, such as health care, child care, security, public office, cosmetology, barbering, boxing, wrestling, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), and acupuncture, to name a few. Also, many felons are prohibiting from working as volunteers in places where the public, especially children, are involved, even if their crimes had nothing to do with kids or stealing (drug possession, for example).
Public housing is often denied to convicted felons. Therefore, without a deceit home and no job or educational opportunities available, the temptation to reoffend is great. When the stomach growls and cold rain is pouring down on their heads, well, survival instinct kicks in and they go for what they know.
But changing the names assigned to convicted felons does absolutely nothing to alter the stigma. Call ’em what you want, but in the minds of the public, whether or not he’s called a convicted felon or a formerly incarcerated person, until real change is made, the revolving doors on our prisons and jails will forever be spinning.
I know, I never offer opinion, opting to write only about fact. This has been my rule. But today I made an exception. Therefore, I am now a one-time official evader of fact-based information who delivered a personal view based on information that does not align with a certain set of beliefs.