Good morning everyone. I just wanted to say a few words before everyone heads out to Sunday Services. It’s been a long week for some of us and we can use an encouraging word from the messenger standing behind the pulpit. Let not today be another routine Sunday were we go and get our weekly dose of religion. Let’s clear our minds and hearts from the burdens carried throughout the week. Pray to the Most High God for deliverance, guidance and the courage to do what’s necessary to become a better person. Then through the power of faith began to walk as if our prayers have already been answered. Remember there is a force that desires to destroy us. This force doesn’t take any breaks but seeks constantly to separate us from God. Pay very close attention to what we say, the things that we do, as well as the people that we hang around. Guard our hearts and minds because the enemy will use anyone to fulfill his goal. Faith without works is dead. That just means that we have work to do in order to become victorious. Draw closer to God and He will draw closer to us. This is just a few words from an ordinary individual. Be encouraged!
There is a high recidivism rate among juveniles in the State of Alabama. The number is between 80% and 90%. Once a juvenile enters the system, he is expected to return to another juvenile facility or even enter the big house. These numbers have been consistent for the past twenty years. This very high number is outrageous. There should be a state of emergency declared. Some of these offenders have non-violent convictions. State policy require each juvenile to attend educational classes while in juvenile custody. I would also like to suggest policies on life skills, decision-making, self-esteem as well as vocational training. I think that when an individual values self, that person will be less likely to place their life in danger. These things should be taught in addition to GED or High School Diploma courses. This will help to counter some of the challenges that are waiting for youth once they return to their community. Some of the challenges consist of drugs, gangs, and peer pressure. This is not only an Alabama problem but more of an American problem. Every time that I see or hear of another juvenile returning to prison, I wonder what could have been done to prevent this from happening?
Am I the only one who see a problem in these numbers. Have we given up on our children? I think that we need more diversion programs as well as re-entry programs. The diversion programs can offer alternatives to juvenile detention centers for first time and non-violent offenders. The re-entry programs can offer guidance and assistance for juveniles being released. There are a number of issues that juveniles will face once they are released. They may feel confused on where they now fit into society. We will lose some of them to gangs and street life at this point.
I am reaching out to some of our great minds on this site. I am looking for comments or suggestions on this topic. What can be do in order to lower the current recidivism rate of juveniles.
There are many lessons that life has to offer us. We will learn some of life’s lessons the easy way while other lessons we will learn the hard way. This story is my personal story of how I learned the hard way. I am not making any excuses for my actions. I am only telling my story. When I was a teenager, I suffered from low self-esteem. I think I can attribute that to how I viewed being poor living while living with my single parent mother. I got teased by others about the clothes that I wore. Sometimes my mother couldn’t afford to buy my siblings and I new clothes for school. This led me to believe that I didn’t have value as an individual. When a person doesn’t values themselves, they become more likely to put their life in dangerous situations. That is exactly what I did, I put my own life in danger. I didn’t think that I was smart. (Since I wasn’t smart there was no need for me to apply myself in school). That was my way of thinking during that time. I think that I allowed those thoughts to get the best of me over time.I later got involved with the lifestyle of drugs and street life. I initially only desired to make money in order to buy things such as clothes and sneakers. I also wanted to have a little money in my pocket to use when I needed it. I wasn’t thinking about buying cars, jewelry, or any of the other things that I later acquired. The reality is that there are consequences in life for the decisions that we make. I now understand this. Due to the lifestyle that I lived, I found myself in some very dangerous situations. There were a number of others that warned me of the dangers of the street lifestyle. I heard them say things like “you are going to end up dead or in prison.” I knew of the many potential dangers that exists in that lifestyle but I felt that my choices were limited . I believed some of the many lies that I told myself about not being able to make a living doing anything else.
Being a stubborn individual, at that time, I had to learn the hard way. Despite many other people who’ve warned me of the life that I lived, I chose not to listen. I could hear the words of others but I wasn’t prepare to step out and make any changes in my life. Well, I eventually met my fate of a long prison sentence. Initially, I became angry at the world. I took some of my frustrations out on others. I got into a number of fights and continued to find myself getting into trouble. I eventually got to the point to where I decided to take responsibility for my actions. I didn’t want to appear to be a bad person. I did want to make better decisions concerning my life. As time went on, I was finally released from prison and given the opportunity to make the best of the rest of my life. I took full advantage of that opportunity. I know what it is like to be locked away for a long time and not having any control over my life. I didn’t want that to be the summary of my life. Once I got released, I soon met a very beautiful young lady. We shared a number of ideas, beliefs, and goals in life. I was honest with her about my past. She was very understanding and was supportive of the changes I was making. We then got married and we now share an eight year old daughter together. I have been out of prison for ten years now. I have been working with troubled youth for eight of those years. I went to college and earned an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. I then went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. There is a lot of work that I still have to do. I am very optimistic about my future. My hope is that others will learn from my experiences without having to learn the hard way. You can learn the easy way or the hard way. The choice is up to you!
I would like to hear from others concerning this story. I would like to write post which are geared towards helping others make more responsible decisions in life. I look forward to hearing from others. I thank everyone, in advance, for your support!