Second chances and what they mean – By Larry Lawton
Being a free man for over eleven years now, (my release date was August 24, 2007) I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on life, family, friends, my career and what it all means. What it always comes back to is second chances and what we do with them.
Most people need a second chance and deserve a second chance. Let me explain, it doesn’t matter if you were caught for something or not. Maybe you have driven drunk, stole something, threatened someone, assaulted someone, etc. Everybody has done something they know was not right and probably could have gotten them in some legal trouble. One person once said to me, “I’ve never done anything that could have gotten me thrown in jail” I looked at him and asked if he ever drove fast, he said “yes”, I then proceeded to explain to him if he was driving 15 mph over the limit and had an accident and someone got killed, that he could go to prison for vehicular homicide. His whole expression changed. My point is, everybody has done something.
Second chances work – Look at me. I am the only ex-con in the United States to ever be sworn in as an honorary police officer and only ex-con to ever be recognized on the Floor of the United States Congress for my work with helping young people and law enforcement agencies.
I also appear regularly on national TV and Radio as an expert on teen issues, crime, schools and community policing. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC — CLICK HERE to see me on TV.
As a man who travels a lot and talks with people from all over the United States, I am so inspired by seeing the support and willingness of people to give others a second chance, even strangers. We all want second chances for our families and friends, but to see it with strangers is what makes me believe the United States is the greatest country on earth. We need to take that philosophy to our jails and prisons.
Our jails and prisons fail miserably, which gives the United States a bad name around the world, and of course, it is just wrong.
Compared to non-third world countries, we have the worst prison system in the free world. Whether it is numbers wise, being treated humanely, or trying to rehabilitate people, we fail miserably.
It confuses me and frustrates me to see our high incarceration rate. I makes me shake my head on why we put more money into jails and prisons then we do into programs and treatment centers.
It is easy for me to show a person the logic, cost effectiveness and humanity good programs and treatment centers have over incarceration. It just baffles me why our government doesn’t but more money and energy into education and not incarceration.
We are a second chance country. Let’s show the world by our actions. Local, state and federal politicians, agencies and organizations need to be more reflective of the people they serve.
I am a lucky man who has met some very good politicians, agency officials and organizations that believe in second chances, understand the cost effectiveness of prevention and programs compared to incarceration, follow what the people they serve want, and are true humanitarians. I personally wanted to thank all of you for your support and belief in me and people in general.
People support positive, good, decent people who run organizations that don’t have clear answers for hard questions. No matter the political party, agency or organization, people know it is not easy, but please keep trying. Change is possible.
What I have learned in life is you can’t put all your energy and efforts into worrying about the negative, there is to much out there. What people need to do is help and support good politicians, officials, organizations and people who can make a difference. There is a saying in life, what goes around comes around.
A little about the Reality Check Program
The Reality Check Program has grown into a national brand with support from Politicians, Law Enforcement Agencies, Judges, and families all over the country. People believe in second chances and so do we. We say this all the time, “We don’t believe in bad kids, we believe in bad choices”. I (Larry Lawton) am living proof that people do change. It really is all about the person wanting to change. Life is all about second chances in everything we do. Think before you act