If you’ve reached this website, you may already agree that our current justice system is out of control. Not that lawbreakers should be given a pass, but how do we treat those who have committed crimes so as to effectively protect society and rehabilitate offenders? How do we do this in a way that not only helps offenders but helps society as well? Can one person make a difference?
Alone, we usually feel helpless to achieve anything of great significance. But when we look around at all that human beings have accomplished we have to marvel. From skyscrapers and bridges, universities and parliaments, electrical grids and computer networks — all are the products of many individuals combining their singular voices and talents to achieve goals greater than could ever have been achieved alone. Even as indirect players, people contribute through their jobs, with their taxes and direct social policy with their votes. Here are a few ways you can contribute and suggestions that will increase your reach and influence:
- Support for those in prison, civil commitment, or on the registry. Your friend or relative may have been sentenced for acts that may make you uncomfortable, but that person is still a human being. Loss of liberty is one thing, but ostracism can be a punishment even worse. Try to stay in contact at least by letter, phone, or other means allowed. Prisoners who have outside support are less likely to be abused by prison staff or other prisoners. They are also more likely to be productive once they are free.
- Stay informed. Please check our list of prison reform organizations — and let us know if there are any we should add.
- Support some of the organizations listed with donations or simply by joining their mailing lists. Legislators are definitely influenced by the size of support behind reform groups.
- Call or write your legislators when action is needed. (Calling is likely more effective.) Many lawmakers have websites where you can let your opinions be known. Email addresses can be anonymous should this be a concern. When new laws are proposed to further harshen punishment for those who break sex laws, or further tighten restrictions on when offenders get out, call or write your legislators to let them know your concerns. By joining the mailing list of your local reform group you’ll find out what are the top concerns and talking points.
- Try to engage other relatives or friends in the issue. You may feel uncomfortable doing this but there are ways of diplomatically broaching the subject.