Bad decisions can change life

Published 8:09 pm Saturday, June 1, 2013

We make decisions every day, whether good or bad, it has to be done. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought I knew how to be a man and forgot about the people I cared the most about that had an impact on my life and how it would affect us.

With the decisions I made, I was charged with distribution of a controlled substance (marijuana). I went to court shortly after and was denied probation, sentenced and incarcerated. I was finally granted parole two years later from a work-release facility. I got a job a few months later, worked for almost one year until (I) was fired. The very next day, I went job hunting to find out that due my background history, several employers wouldn’t hire me.

In many parts of the United States, a convicted felon could face long-term legal consequences after imprisonment, such as exclusions from obtaining licenses such as a visa, or professional license required to operate (equipment), exclusions from purchasing and possessing firearms, ammunition and/or body armor, ineligibility to vote or serve on a jury. Ineligibility for government assistance, including being barred from federally-funded housing.

Additionally, most jobs and rental applications ask about felony history. Answering dishonestly on either is grounds for rejecting the application, or termination if it is discovered after you’ve been hired. It is legal to discriminate against felons in hiring decisions and decisions to rent housing. These are some of the many barriers dealt with by felons each day.

You’ve tried to find a job in order to get a place to live, but can’t. Your mind goes, “what can I do; what is left for me to do.” While incarcerated, classes I took, they called this “stinking thinking, which is what got you in the position you (are) in now.” When a person has been rehabilitated and is changing their ways, doing the right thing, the barriers they’ve faced makes it that much harder.

People make many decisions – making the decisions to do what you just did, to go where you just came from, is life; as you see no other way. Everyone has made a bad decision, but learning from your mistakes and wanting to do the right thing is a part of growing up and becoming a man.

Joshua Wright

River Falls