After a few days of reading reviews of criticism of "Preachers of Atlanta," I decided to watch the debut episode to see what everyone was talking about. While the show itself did open the doors for criticism of Christianity-- I mean WIDE open --one thing I heard during the episode has stayed with me and crossed my mind several times over the weekend.

Antonio, a friend of Pastor Canton Jones's was recently released from prison after serving several years. He didn't understand how a pastor could be a policeman, as to him being a law enforcement officer lends itself to corruption automatically. For the beginning of this part, go to 40:45. They're rapping up a discussion concerning homosexuality and clergy. As soon as the Pastor Corey Hambrick says everyone should be entitled to constitutional rights, the former offender fine tunes his attention.

I guess because I've never been in trouble with the law and never really had a lot of interaction with anyone who has, I hadn't thought much about the criminal justice system. I have looked into the rates of incarceration for varying demographics as well as sentencing laws and guidelines. I'd even heard it said numerous times that the system is designed to keep you in it once you're in. I never really understood that statement until I heard this brother speak.

Here's the part that got me!

Antonio said that upon release from prison, he wasn't given a job . "I came home from prison. They had me on probation." He says this is the first thing that's done upon release. He has no job and nothing to which he comes out, but he is required to pay $100 per week. This practically forces him to go back to illegal activity. Of course with every offense, there's not only a steeper penalty but also an attached stigma that decreases the likelihood of obtaining gainful employment.

A while back, I shared a post from DeAndre X Dunn, who described the way he stays out of prison.

I make no excuses about their isnt any jobs out here.....i will make one..LEGAL

Posted by DeAndre X Dunn on Saturday, December 20, 2014

 

Mr. Dunn is definitely the exception, but he doesn't have to be. I'm pretty convinced that we are all given talents which can be turned into income, but not everyone is an entrepreneur.

The question then becomes why SHOULD a person have to create a job for him- or herself? If a person has "paid" his or her debt to society, why isn't he or she then given what is needed to pay "the remainder?" Instead of attaching fees to probation for the offender, why not assign so many hours of community service per week with an organization that pays a working man's hourly wage to the company that oversees the probation? There have been a number of times that I've come upon "prisoners at work" along the highway. Why can't the same system apply to those on probation?

At one time, prison was described as a rehabilitation center. How do you rehabilitate a person and then practically force them to return to the same activity? The odds of the person returning to prison are extremely high; and until reform comes about, prison is no more about punishment and rehabilitation as it is a business for those capitalizing on a corrupt system. It's time for that to change!