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Removing the Stigma- Returning Citizens Are Humans

Society often holds misconceptions and stereotypes about formerly incarcerated individuals, perpetuating a stigma that hinders their reintegration process. Part of Project Restart’s mission is dispelling these myths and promoting a more inclusive and understanding society. We have heard so much about and have participated in so many diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) activities in the past 5 years, but a truly inclusive culture is one that also embraces this demographic. In this comprehensive list, we will address common misconceptions and shed light on the realities of formerly incarcerated individuals.

 
1. Myth: All formerly incarcerated individuals are dangerous or violent.
 
Reality: It is essential to recognize that people make mistakes and can change. Formerly incarcerated individuals come from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Many have made efforts to rehabilitate themselves and are committed to building a better future. It is unfair and inaccurate to assume that all formerly incarcerated individuals are inherently dangerous or violent. 
 
2. Myth: Once a person has been in prison, they are destined to reoffend.
 
Reality: While recidivism rates vary, it is crucial to understand that successful reintegration is possible. Given the right support and opportunities, formerly incarcerated individuals can rebuild their lives and contribute positively to society. Programs like Project Restart focus on providing the necessary resources and guidance to help individuals break the cycle of recidivism and increase long-term self-sufficiency.
 
3. Myth: Formerly incarcerated individuals are lazy or unwilling to work.
 
Reality: Many formerly incarcerated individuals are eager to secure stable employment and rebuild their lives and will be some of the most dedicated employees when given that opportunity. However, they often face significant barriers, such as limited job opportunities, lack of skills, and stigma. By providing access to job training, employment support, and addressing systemic barriers, we can help them overcome these challenges and succeed in the workforce. 
 
4. Myth: Education is not important for formerly incarcerated individuals.
 
Reality: Education plays a crucial role in the successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. Access to education and skills training programs empowers individuals to acquire new knowledge, develop marketable skills, and pursue career opportunities. Education not only increases their employability, but also fosters personal growth, interpersonal skills, communication and self-confidence.
 
5. Myth: All formerly incarcerated individuals are untrustworthy.
 
Reality: Trustworthiness should not be solely determined by one's past mistakes, we’ve all made mistakes. It is essential to recognize that individuals can change and learn from their experiences. The willingness to take responsibility for one's actions and actively work towards personal growth and rehabilitation should be acknowledged and supported.
 
6. Myth: Formerly incarcerated individuals are a burden on society.
 
Reality: Formerly incarcerated individuals who successfully reintegrate into society become productive members, contributing to their communities and the economy. They have unique perspectives and experiences that can bring diversity and innovation to various fields. By supporting their reintegration, we create a more inclusive society that values redemption and second chances.
 
7. Myth: Formerly incarcerated individuals are not deserving of support or second chances.
 
Reality: Everyone deserves a second chance, including formerly incarcerated individuals. Rehabilitation and successful reintegration benefit not only the individuals themselves but also society as a whole. By providing support, opportunities, and a supportive environment, we can help individuals rebuild their lives and become contributing members of society.
 
Dispelling myths and challenging the stigma surrounding formerly incarcerated individuals is crucial for fostering a more inclusive and compassionate society. By understanding the realities and complexities of their experiences, we can provide the support, resources, and opportunities necessary for successful reintegration. 

Let us work together to break down the barriers and create a society that recognizes the potential for growth and positive change in every individual, regardless of their past.

To learn more about us or to support our cause at Project Restart, visit www.projectrestartatl.org 

 

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