A Little Sympathy Goes A Long Way

 As we begin May, I reflected on last month's day session topic...Criminal Justice. In the last couple years a similar theme was addressed: Recidivism. It refers to a person's relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime.

I'm sure many of you have wondered, "Why don't they just go get a job". However, consider how hard it was for you (or some of you) to get a job right out of college, or as a parent returning to the workforce. In this economy, it is not so easy. Hunger and Poverty is all around us.

We viewed a TEDTalk with Mike Brady, President and CEO at Greyston Bakery, about hiring the unemployable and its relation to poverty.

Brady leads with a startling fact; "46 million people in the United States are living in poverty. That is 1 out of 6 people, in the world's richest country, that don't know where their next meal is coming from."

A study by Washington University shows that nearly half of all Americans will experience poverty at some point in their adult life.

The failed reformation of imprisoned individuals, in addition to loss of jobs, increased drug use, has a serious affect on society at an estimated rate of around 500 billion dollars a year.

Research by the Department of Criminal Justice shows that housing and employment are the most critical barriers people face. And the stigma attached to reformed individuals is enormous, which can limit their success and break their determination to succeed.

Enabling poverty is our nations biggest problem and many of our citizens are struggling to survive. As I mentioned in the last blog, doing the same thing and expecting different results does not get you far. Business structures from hundreds of years ago (and all policies really) need to be updated to function in today's world.

Brady uses social entrepreneurism to address issues of poverty and transformation. They are committed to employing a range of chronically unemployed people, including former convicts and recovering addicts. It is a small change that can make a huge difference.

His TED Talk is well worth a look

One of the day's panelists, Jerome Wright, founder of The M.A.N. Program, is a reformed individual who created this organization to mentor and nurture at-risk individuals in WNY. Wright said, "Once we start loving each other, we will start living better."

If we eliminate our bias and rid our prejudices, we will be able to better communicate and function as a community.