When we say society needs to stop stigmatizing felons, it goes beyond not being bad to them. Since they have served the required punishment, there is no need to still treat them like criminals.
If a person has committed a crime and gotten away with it, there is an understandable urge to not want to be associated with them. But in the case of people who have been to prison, they have paid the price already.
You may not know it, but when you treat ex-convicts as though they were still unpunished for their crimes, you are making things worse for them and their rehabilitation process.
Would you rather have repentant criminals who have served jail time and have chosen to live better lives. Or have convicted felons who suffer from stigma and have no place in society because of discrimination?
We all want a better society, but this will be hard to achieve if we keep pushing repentant criminals away.
What happens when felons are stigmatized?
If there is anything worth stigmatizing, it should be crime itself, not people that have given up crime. Nothing good can come from stigmatizing felons, as you will see in the points below:
Stigmatizing felons will make them afraid to get help
After facing rejection at every turn, a felon will be thrown into mental torture. It could get so bad that they will need to ask for help — but they won’t.
The fear of being rejected, mocked, and discriminated against, will push them into a state where they no longer feel worthy of getting help.
At this point, even if a kind-hearted person decides to offer counsel, they will not show up. And without help in such a vulnerable state — you can only expect things to get worse for anyone.
Stigmatizing felons will lead to higher crime rates
When felons come out of jail and want to live a normal life, they are aware their reputation is damaged. Yet, they try to learn skills and make money in a legal way with all that burden.
If they continually face stigma from every angle, they will feel alone and give up within a short time. At this point, they are vulnerable to bad advice and will easily turn back to crime.
This will lead to higher crime rates, which is bad for them, for you, and everyone else in the city.
Stigmatizing felons could push them to suicide
Stigma has a very bad effect one a person’s mental health, this is chiefly why it is discouraged everywhere.
We have seen how badly stigma has affected the mental health of HIV patients, overweight people, poor people, etc. Felons are not less human, so if other people can be driven to suicide via stigmatization, so can they.
No matter how much you hate what a person did in their past, you definitely don’t want to be resoinsbile for their suicide.
Stigmatizing felons will affect their loved ones
Parents that have waited for their child to leave prison and come home could get their joy turned into tears. When the felon commits suicide, returns to crime, or falls into any pit caused by stigmatization, their loved ones suffer.
Since you can’t control the activities of everyone around you, anyone you love could be convicted of a crime. How would you feel if they got stigmatized after turning a new leaf?
We should all be careful about how we treat others, no matter what they may have done in the past. Because as an old saying goes, “there is no sinner without a future, and no saint without a past”.
What to do instead of strigmatizating felons
Instead of looking down on felons, you can do these simple things to help them live better lives.
- Encourage them with words
- Help them with money while they search for a job
- Speak well of them to others
- Help them get therapy
- Teach them skills that they can use to make money
- Introduce them to support groups
- Invite them to religious gatherings
- Employ them
Some of the best people in the world are men and women that have done bad things in the past. So do not be quick to write off someone because they have been to prison.
With time and the right support system, felons can make positive changes to the world.