The System is Broken

by Wendell Bates

Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

The thing that bothers me the most in my life is that I would love to live a normal life but I am not giving the chance to. Being labeled a felon does not give me a real chance of changing my life around and being a productive citizen.

I try to go out and gain employment but I am still being asked am I a felon and just by me being one disqualifies me from getting jobs that could help me turn my life around.

How many people do you think would continue to break laws if given a chance to gain employment with liveable wages?

Being a felon I am not given equal oppurtunity to live a productive life as a citizen. The system is broken, I am punished for breaking the law by being incarcerated.

When I am released everybody wants me to stay out of trouble and get a job. The job they offer us as felon’s you really can’t make a living off of. So when life gets hard and bill’s back up what do you expect me to do? Human’s are creature’s of habit, I go back to what I know to try to get out of my finacial slump.

I would love the oppurtunity to work a job making a livable wage were I can take care of home and live a content life. I don’t want to committ crimes, I love and want my freedom, I want to spend time with my family especially my kid’s so I can break this cycle that a lot of African American families go through.

I pray for the day that we are all given equal oppurtunities especially at gaining employment. The day that my past does not affect me from becoming a better man in my future. How do I better myself and get out of this gray box I’m living in if my employment oppurtunities are limited because of my past.

I want to live a better life and I pray someone one day will give me an oppurtunity to be a productive citizen outside of these wall’s.