Social Injustice

Humility, Grace and Compassion by Justin Guyton

Lock them up and throw away the key. That’s the mindset which many citizens in the communities that make up our nation have towards offenders. Sick and tired of the crime which plagues today’s society, incarceration is the solution that will give civilians a peace of mind right? A superficial one yes, but in the grand scheme of things incarceration doesn’t equate to safer communities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 2.3 million people are incarcerated in state, federal prisons or county jails. In America 700,000 offenders each year return to the community after serving a term in prison. Most people don’t realize at least 95% of all state prisoners will be released from prison one day. 

Despite serving their time, hence paying their debt to society, the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t welcomed by their communities with open arms. They’re most often labeled, shunned and discriminated against in ways which would be deemed criminal if it weren’t for them having a criminal record. For example, it’s against the law to deny housing to a person based on their sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. In most communities a landlord will deny an individual the opportunity to obtain housing, a basic life necessity due to a felony conviction. 

Without access to the basic essentials that every human being needs, many returning citizens end up experiencing homelessness. Statistics have revealed that this type of instability has a direct correlation to our national recidivism rate. Data on recidivism shows the majority of prisoners who leave prison will most likely be rearrested within thirty-six months of their release; nearly 80% of prisoners will be rearrested within a decade of their release.

On the flip side, statistically prisoners who completed a vocational program or participated in college classes are 33% less likely to recidivate. Having educational opportunities, employment and housing will most likely improve the chance of a returning citizens odds of becoming a productive member of society. If our justice system’s true intention was rehabilitation those three components would be intertwined within the fabric of the rehabilitation process. 

If society wants safe communities returning citizens need to be embraced as individuals who’ve made mistakes in the past and now are ready to put in the work to build the road to a better future. Instead of treating a person returning home from like they’re the lowest scum of the earth, how about we show them compassion. Through showing the 700,000 prisoners that return to our communities each year grace, support and encouragement we lay the foundation for safer communities. We shouldn’t continue to dwell on their shortcomings, since during the course of our lives we all fall down at times. Some just fall down harder than others. 

In closing, the next time that you encounter a returning citizen, a person who has fell, take a deep look into the mirror. If you were them would you want somebody to help you dust yourself off after your tumbling fall? I’m pretty sure you would like for someone to come along and kick you while your down. In a sense, theoretically many people do just that all while claiming we need safer communities.


If you’re just now hearing about this Akron, Ohio native, don’t worry a quick Google search will bring you up to speed on this trailblazing entrepreneur. Justin Guyton is the author of Felon: The New Slur Word, and the forthcoming fictional novels Ball For The Summer, and Blinded By Love. As a prison reform advocate his writings have appeared in several publications including Syracuse University’s The Mend Journal, Free Minds Connect, and Prison Health News. Through his Blowboi Entertainment imprint he helps other writers fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors by providing them with the necessary tools to establish and grow their fan base. When he’s not writing you can find him in the studio producing hits for some of your favorite recording artist. To hear more about the author check out the interviews he’s done with, Prison Riot Radio, and more. Follow him on X (Twitter)/Instagram: @Rubbercity_J