Pardons for California inmates a step in restoring hope

Pardons for California inmates a step in restoring hope

Dewey Mullis

Good Friday was especially good to more than 60 former inmates in California who received pardons from the governor’s office last week, according to a statement released by the governor.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has a reputation for issuing dozens of pardons around holidays. To date, Brown has pardoned more than 300 former inmates since he became governor.

During the 20 years of governorship before Brown, only 29 pardons had been granted, according to The Huffington Post.

The best part about this news isn’t simply Brown’s generosity with the use of pardons, but it is the recognition of criminal-turned-law-abiding citizen and the positive side of the correctional system.

But there is more to be done. When it comes to opinions of the correctional system, the general public is often bogged down in belief that criminals don’t change and that they return to a life of crime after their release.

What Brown is doing appears to be an attempt to restore faith in the public. For current and former inmates, it is a glimmer of hope that somebody is paying attention to them.

Most of the men who were paroled on Good Friday had completed sentences for drug offenses nearly a decade ago, according to CBS. Post-release, many of the men are working in public service or serving as drug rehabilitation counselors.

Clark William Guest, one of the men pardoned, has been serving as the program coordinator for a drug rehabilitation facility. Guest said this pardon is a reminder that good people can make mistakes.

Substance rehabilitation and treatment programs offered in the prisons are the least effective method of keeping an individual from committing a crime after their release, according to the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Education continues to be the most meaningful program in reducing recidivism.

The incarceration of drug addicts must come to an end. While pardons are powerful, we must consider a complete overhaul of the way our system responds to addiction.

And addiction is not a crime – it is a disease.

Excessive incarceration of drug-related charges is clogging the courts and prisons with no signs of slowing down. Coupling the rehabilitation and treatment with a stay in a prison environment is nothing more than a hindrance to the process.

There should be a more comprehensive program available that allows people convicted of drug addiction-related crimes to complete a more meaningful rehabilitation. Coupling positive social interaction with addiction education and rehabilitation is necessary.

The pardons for people after their release are a step in the right direction. The next step is to bring that positive light to those who are currently affected by addiction and incarceration.

Dewey Mullis, a junior criminal justice major from Wallburg, is an opinion writer.