Can you imagine having to restart your life after 17 years? That’s the reality Omar has to face after being released from prison, and he’s not alone. All former prisoners are in the same boat. Strained relationships, gaps in resumes, stigma, prejudice, and a different and changing world are just some of the factors former prisoners have to deal with.
My new show, “Prisoner of Hope,” follows the journeys of families healing from the effects of mass incarceration from both sides of the bars. Here’s why this show is a must-watch for you.
Humanize former prisoners
You might think mass incarceration doesn’t really affect you, but even if you aren’t directly affected by the system, there’s a good chance someone you love is. Understanding and empathy are the first emotions to employ when making changes. As you follow along with Omar and his family’s story, you’ll see how the effects of mass incarceration extend far beyond the prison walls. As I speak to Omar’s mother, you will recognize the familiar feelings of parental love and concern that you’ve felt in your own life. This show is designed to help you see former prisoners for what they really are: human, just like you and me.
And these people, just like you and I, have families who are left behind. This is the missing piece of the puzzle that society often forgets about or overlooks. They are equally as impacted by incarceration. That’s why the show is designed to deal with their side of this reality, not so much as the returning citizen or prisoner if they are still inside.
Stop the blame game
Did you know 77% of ex-offenders will return to prison within five years? Many people are comfortable blaming the ex-offenders, convinced they are bad people who will never change, but mass incarceration sets up prisoners to fail. A prison sentence strips away a person’s identity and doesn’t provide the tools they need to change, during or after their sentence. And if throwing people in prison isn’t truly a path to reformation, what’s the point? This is one of the many problems inherent in the mass incarceration epidemic.
77% of ex-offenders will return to prison within five years. It doesn’t have to be this way, the revolution is now.
Awareness is crucial
Upon coming to terms with this statistic, hearing Omar’s story and learning about the problems with mass incarceration, you might be wondering what you can do to help to rebuild communities. One of the best ways you can make a difference is by spreading the word. It’s shocking how few people know about the negative effects of mass incarceration.
Together, we can start a movement and demand the prison system make the necessary changes.
Ultimately, it’s about supporting families. My goal is to take them out of their symbolic incarceration and allow them to live free again. That means helping them find hope even in the darkest times by educating them on possibilities, bringing experts to the table for their potential mental issues and uncovering the biggest pain points they have as a family. Bringing their stories to the forefront can mean that others can take an empathetic approach and work to find solutions to life’s challenges.
I encourage you to share the pilot episode of “Prisoner of Hope” with your friends and family, especially on social media. Together, we can start a movement and demand the prison system make the necessary changes.