Don’t Count Me Out!

Following on the heels of The Clean Slate Act, which offers the possibility those with criminal records of having their records sealed, and The First Step Act, which gives non-violent offenders an alternative to jail time to get in a rehab program and clean up their act is a prison reform act that would expunge criminal records is gaining steam in order to help reduce Pennsylvania’s prison population.    http://levittownnow.com/2019/06/10/series-of-criminal-justice-reforms-gaining-steam-in-pa/ 

People who really mess up should be given the option, the opportunity to get straight. The ball is in their court, and they have to want to work on improving themselves. Just because someone goes to jail, you shouldn’t count them out for life. 

Some do write people off once they mess up. Years ago, when I worked in a Pennsylvania State park, a law enforcement official told me that once you go to jail and enter the system, you are a career criminal. I disagreed. I pointed out the famous short story writer O. Henry, was sentenced to jail for five years for embezzlement from a bank. He was released after three years for good behavior. While in prison, he wrote short stories to support his young daughter. 

O. Henry got straight and stayed straight.

The state ranger argued “he (O Henry) was being punished.”  Unable to convince me of his view, he stated that the state of Pennsylvania believes what he said. That the government says something is right does not convince me. The government is populated by fallible human beings. They are not the final authority. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0377958/bio 

In America, we have the right to redress grievances, and if something is wrong, it may be changed. This is what is happening with prison reform. A call to follow up on Christian prison ministries, to mentor those when they get out is argued in a Salvation Army blog: https://www.salvationarmy.org/nhqblog/news/2014-06-20-the-revolving-door?fbclid=IwAR12yk-bu1SucA_FeE2muTk0eQKWrzPfZ9ZEKuvGmzFrtWWOB1mHkqhyX8g

With their freedom, prisoners who are let out need to act responsibly and work hard to keep straight. To that end, Conquering Life Prison and Recovery Ministries (CLPRM) was created.   http://www.clprm.org/ 

 Through Biblical counsel and working with each other in community, problem people get redeemed. We are all broken people, and Jesus can make us whole. He is the answer to all our issues. 

A Prescription To Abate Homelessness

I am perplexed when I read of homeless advocates who believe big government programs will help the homeless. Like the opioid crisis, government programs to resolve the homeless problem only makes it worse. 

The key to getting out of the poverty that leads to homelessness is to take advantage of opportunities to educate yourself and improve yourself in other ways. Read. Apply yourself. Work hard at whatever you do. 

These are the kind of things John Philip Sousa IV, great grandson of the great March King, discusses in Ben Carson Rx For America 

Dr. Carson entered the political arena after his keynote address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he diagnosed the big government, socialistic agenda of then President Barry Obummer. By the way, after this legitimate criticism, the Skinny Socialist had the IRS audit Carson, to no avail. 

The doc is a great example where, by showing initiative, reading, hard work and applying himself, people can get out of poverty. Dr. Carson and his wife Candy started initiatives, using their own resources, to help poor people improve themselves. They offer them a hand up, not the hand out of the welfare state, where you become wards of the state, with limited choices in a caste system.  

In Bucks County, PA, the homeless population continues to increase.  I contacted a county commissioner a few years back to propose the idea to use county land to create an official homeless community, which the homeless help build and manage. The proposal fell on deaf ears. The commissioner’s reply was that the homeless would be made too comfortable if this were to happen and they wouldn’t apply for government assisted housing. And there would be complications, such as mental health and drug abuse issues.  

In the commissioner’s words: “I also do not think that is helpful to the homeless. It just creates more space for them to avoid going to Housing Link and getting the referral, they need, to start getting sober/clean, on medication, in therapy, signed up for assistance or some type of work, and a solid roof over their head.” 

Not all homeless people have these problems. Even if they do, like the rest of us, they can address these needs after they get housing. Ben Carson advocates housing first. This is one of the topics I explore in There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey with the Homeless.  Available: https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there+are+homeless+in+bucks+county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull 

Bucks County should follow the example of Pedro Opeka, who encouraged impoverished people in Madagascar to build good communities from a dump, where once he taught them, they became educated and also built their own community. They didn’t build their city on rock and roll but by motivation and hard work. 

A formerly homeless guy in Bucks County told me he spoke with a businessman who had planned to create housing for the homeless. When the establishment found out the project was for the homeless, it was nixed! I’ve heard from other sources that, although there is more property in Bucks County than homeless people, when caring people tried to make plans to use it for the homeless, they got shut down faster than The Little Old Lady from Pasadena shuts down anyone who races her.  https://youtu.be/CKE__FoHdE0 

Dignity Village, where the homeless helped build and also managed the village where formerly homeless folks came, works:  https://dignityvillage.org/ 

Individual initiative and responsibility, not big government programs,  is the best way to fight homelessness.