• When He Just Needs One Second Chance – How Forgiving Are We?

    JEFF BATES

    I don’t often agree with San Francisco, but do you suppose there is something to leveling the playing field for ex-cons? It seems that now, in addition to San Fran, there are others who want to do away with “the question” on every application: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

    So far, what I am seeing is that people are very, very divided on the issue, and the division seems to come from personal experience. Those who have been touched by the issue feel very strongly one way, and those who have not had any experience with this, feel just as strongly the other way.

    I guess the bottom line is what we are willing to forgive and what we are not, and that is very personal to people. And yet, we say we are a society that believes that once people pay for their crime, mistake, sin, whatever you want to call it, they are free to rebuild their lives.

    I think what we probably mean is that “they” are free to begin again as long as “we” do not have to be involved, and let’s fact it. We are all probably at least a little guilty of this, aren’t we?

    So, let’s think for a minute. Just what can we live with? Let’s say a twenty-five year old man is convicted of a DWI and goes to prison for five years. That is a felony, and forever he will answer the question on every job application in the country with a YES.

    Now, let’s say he learned his lesson, quit drinking, and is ready to go back into the workforce. Do you hire him? I think maybe you will because his is a problem that many understand and even accept and there will be many willing to take a chance on him.

    Okay, let’s say we have the same young man with a meth addiction. Hmmmm…we know that it is really, really tough to kick the meth. We know that quite often people will steal to get their fix…

    Or…maybe it wasn’t an addiction…the same young man steals a car, goes for a ride, and then rides right on into prison for the next ten years. While there, he grows up and is ready to reclaim his life. Should he have to answer the Have You Ever question, knowing it will cost him a decent job?

    The list could go on and on, of course, but my question remains. Is it fair to make every applicant answer the Felony question on every application? Do these people deserve the chance this question denies them?

    Is it possible that this very general question should be tailored to specifics?

    And now…let’s bring it a little closer to home…lately we’ve had some of our own young people step up and admit they have had problems, problems that could put them exactly, spot-on in the middle of this page. So now, I want you to think again…just who does deserve a second chance?

    About Fredda Jones

    Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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    10 Responses to When He Just Needs One Second Chance – How Forgiving Are We?

    1. Sam Vineyard says:

      Ok, a fair question, yes they do need to answer yes to it. Ever employer then should do aa background check and find out what the felony charge was and check his record to see if he served all his sentence and if he had changed his ways. No one made him do whatever he did, he made that decision for himself, and any employer can make his decision about taking the chance of hiring him. Everyone all around should take the responsibility for their actions. Just as parents should take the responsibility of raising their kids to be good adults.

      • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

        After I made this post, Sam, I saw something on a news show that fit right with this.

        A young man of I think 19 was charged as a sex offender because of an underage girlfriend. Today this man is in his mid 30’s and his wife of 15 years is a couple of years younger, and you guessed it. The wife is that girlfriend.

        The man has never been in trouble and he and his wife seem to be pillars in the community, but he has to register as a sex offender and follow the laws that go with that.

        The couple has 3 children and, of course, they cannot have friends over, etc… Now, I would assume that with enough money a top attorney could make this record “go away, ” but I do not know this and it has not happened so far.

        Should there not be a “second chance” for this man? It doesn’t matter that he has been in no more trouble. When a possible employer sees Sex Offender, it is all over.

      • Crystal Meeks says:

        Hi Sam,

        You are right when you say these people made a choice but it is unfair for you to make it sound as if it is the parent’s fault that they made those mistakes. Out of five beautiful children, one is a loving family man, hard worker and father of three and the two youngest boys are both serving our country overseas, and the youngest is a senior this year trying to get a scholarship to a culinary college, and one, the next to the oldest, is in prison. It had nothing to do with the way he was raised, it started with an injury that lead to the illness of addiction; an illness he did not know how to control and it landed him in prison where he is now clean, has received counseling and trained for a new career.

        His father and I did not teach him to do the things he did that landed him in prison, he was injured and then made mistakes. As his mother of course I want him to have a second chance and I pray that if I am ever faced with a person that needs a second chance that I can be forgiving and understanding and allow that person a chance at a new beginning.

      • James Boldebuck says:

        Sam,

        I commented on your comment. Now I would like to ask you a question. Many years ago when I lived in Comanche I knew a Dudley Vinyard and Pepper Vinyard. Are you related and are they still around?

        • Sam Vineyard says:

          I don’t remember either of them and they are not around Comanche at this time. I think Pepper Vineyard was a distant cousin, a part of the family of my grandfather’s brother’s family. Either Kate Carpenter’s brother or nephew. Gail Easley could tell you for sure, I think.

    2. mack Courtney says:

      I think that an ex-con or anyone trying to change their ways, needs a second chance. Back in 1966 I was looking for a oil well service equipment operator. Another Christian acquaintance of mine asked me to give an Ex-con a job. He knew the man’s family and said that he had been a good worker before he was sent to state prison for a 5 year term. He got out on parole and got into trouble with his ex wife’s family and was sent back to serve the remainder of his sentence.

      I hired Dick K. and the first day of work I had a “Come to Jesus meeting.’ With him and explained my expectations and the boundaries of his job. He was a good worker and he and I became good friends. When I left that company and went to work for a competitor Dick followed me over there. I had him over to our house the same as any other fellow employees. About 3 years later I talked a couple of other Christians and the county sheriff into asking the Governor of Texas to grant Dick a full pardon. After several months of sending in letters and documents the Governor granted Dick a full pardon. He was very proud of the pardon and he has been a friend of mine ever since. Dick helped me keep our son out of trouble once when our son was grown and doing drugs. This Second Chance gift to Dick is one of my most cherished happenings.

      Yes, I would recommend that an Ex-Convict that is trying to change his life be given a second chance. God forgives and forgets sin thru the blood of Jesus Christ’s Death, Burial and Resurrection, so why shouldn’t we give someone that is trying to change a second chance?

      • Sam Vineyard says:

        I agree that they need a second chance, as I said though the employer needs to do his job and look at the background. But how many of them will, with a lot people looking and applying for the same job.

    3. Crystal Meeks says:

      Fredda, as I sat read your article and then watch the video of Jeff Bates, I began to cry. You see I have a son that will be facing this soon. He was injured and got addicted to pain medications and alcohol. The addiction just got worse and so did his behavior to the point I prayed for him to get locked up, because he could not understand what we were telling him through the haze of his addiction, I became so afraid for him and terrified that the next time there was a knock on my door, it would be to tell me he was dead. He talks now of getting out and being the father he knows his two daughters need. He has worked with one of their training programs and learned a new profession and he says he has learned from his mistakes and is sorry for what he has put his family through.

      In a time of economic turmoil it is so hard to find a job now days and I am afraid that even with this training, because of his record he will overlooked for jobs that he is qualified for. I do not know about Comanche housing, but here there are many apartment complexes that run background checks and if you have ever been to jail or prison they can deny you housing. It is scary knowing that no matter how much he may have changed that he could end up jobless or homeless and because of the obstacles that he will have to hurtle, that it could break him causing him to give up on himself and dreams. This is what many ex-cons face every day. I think that once they have served their time, they deserve that second chance. It is not just their second chance but a second chance for their children and families as well. They need to be able to live and support their families. They made a mistake once, don’t we all? I realize that our mistakes may not have landed us in a cell, but we still paid for them and so have they. They, just like the rest of us, deserve a second chance.

      Crystal

      • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

        I think, Crystal, that it is really, really hard to understand this situation until one has been faced with it. Jeff Bates is very fortunate because in the music business it is relatively easy to begin again. In the “real world” it is a different story unless one has the ablilty or the means to own his own business.

        I do understand that there are people who commit crimes against children, etc. that stats show usually always have the danger of being repeat offenders; however, I also know so many people like your son who just need one second chance as the song goes. I will be thinking of all of you and thank you for sharing your story. I know it could not have been easy.

    4. James Boldebuck says:

      Sam is spot on as to how these people should be handled. Yes, they deserve a second chance but they have to earn it. If you hire two people, one who is a local with a proven record of good attendance and productivity. the other has been in prison for five years for robbery or some other felony you are naturally going to keep a closer eye on the ex con. A good employer or supervisor would not put extra pressure on him but would give extra support if merited.

      I was a supervisor in a Mobile Home factory way back in the 1950’s where very little was checked when people were hired. A situation came up where a background check was done on most of the people. Turned out I had a kid working for me that was on probation. When this came to light the owner of the company asked me if I was going to fire him. I said no, he is one of my better employees. I had a talk with him and he remained one of the better people in my department. So yes 2nd chances are available to those who earn them.

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