Tackle social stigma faced by ex-offenders

I refer to the report, (“Rolling out message of second chances”; Oct 21 Wednesday, 2015) that it is important  to give ex-offenders a chance at re-integrating back into society and  in giving them more opportunities to contribute back to society.

It is a positive step in the right direction in light of the recent launch of the Yellow Ribbon Community Truck (YRCT) to educate the public and to break the misconceptions surrounding ex-offenders. With increased government support in helping these ex-offenders, the public should always be encouraged to create a positive impact in the lives of these ex-offenders by participating in this community outreach.

Through giving ex-offenders second chances in employability and accepting them as they have been rehabilitated, it will give them greater reasons to not re-offend again and it serves as a reminder to them to prove to society that they are able to make use of the second chances given to them.

A larger pool of volunteers and testimonials from ex-offenders will help address the public’s misconceptions surrounding ex-offenders. The government should also focus their efforts in helping families who have been victims of the negative light cast upon them as often, they are helpless and have no one to turn to. Community support is crucial for both ex-offenders and their families to ensure that they do not re-offend and that they are able to provide for their families.

Perhaps, the Yellow Ribbon Project can go further in terms of speaking to companies in hiring ex-offenders in their workplace in supporting this initiative and also giving these people a chance to earn a decent living. Bigger companies should set an example so that smaller companies would follow so that ex-offenders will have the courage to find employment and that companies would be more willing to employ them. Companies that hire ex-offenders are giving them jobs but they are educating the public and giving self-esteem to ex-offenders and their families in removing the stigma that ex-offenders are able to change for the better.

More can be done to provide alternative paths for ex-offenders in helping them to re-integrate back into society and to remove any barriers that might be holding them back to support their families and finding employment to provide for their families.  Thus through this initiative, it will spur ex-offenders to regain their self-confidence in stepping back into society.

Darren Chan Keng Leong 

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