Committee members have frequently commented on the need to educate the public about the importance of allowing ex-offenders to put their crimes behind them and about the fact that many of the people being hindered by their records have never been dangerous or are obviously rehabilitated. It is important to encourage citizens to be reasonable when considering the risks criminals present – to recognize that there is no such thing as complete security and that many of those who harm others have no prior criminal record. While ignoring the fact that some criminals should never have access to people or property will place us in danger, making certain that no one around us has a criminal record will not make us safe.
1. Implement a campaign to educate the public about the link between public safety and sound re-entry programs, including those that promote employment.
The Committee has not had time to create a proposal for an effective campaign about how appropriate re-entry policy and programs can reduce recidivism and increase public safety, but it would certainly be worthwhile to do so. Citizens should know that they and their friends could easily find themselves faced with unfair barriers resulting from an arrest or a conviction for some minor offense. They should know the real faces and experiences of ex-offenders who are unable to find work or housing even when they do everything the law requires and make every effort to support themselves. In the movies, criminals are either monsters or innocent. In life, they are human beings with significant failures, which can be either sources of learning and self-awareness or irreparably debilitating wounds.