HOW MIGHT WE...

understand societal stigma and its effect on recidivism?

UN GOAL # 16 - peace, justice & strong institutions

launa austin

In order for society to function effectively, we accept the cause and effect of our actions. We respect that there are punishments that follow legal precedents and discourage recidivism.  Our society accepts that the criminal justice system and its roles exist to enforce law and order, and to keep offenders off the streets. Offenders must pay for their crimes through our correctional system.

 

Once an inmate serves the entirety of their punishment in the correctional system and is released back into the world, society continues to punish them through their attitudes and behaviours towards the released inmates. For society to reasonably  expect positive change from these past inmates, there needs to be a shift in stigmas and biases.  Sentences have a finite time, personal biases should too. By changing the stigma and attitudes towards former inmates, their need to cycle through criminal behaviour can all but stop. No longer should former inmates be reminded of their pasts each time they complete a house rental form, job application, or work to provide for their families. Yes, criminals made their choices to commit crimes, but the systems in our society enable a cycle of behaviour that negatively affects former offenders.