Over the Labor Day weekend, a group of religious leaders, representatives of non-profit organizations, and regular concerned citizens gathered at a town hall meeting in Berlin, CT, to discuss the refugee crisis in Europe and to ask what we can do as a Connecticut community to help those refugees who are fleeing wars. Here’s what we came up with.
Many ex-convicts who get out of prison end up in Hartford on our streets. According to a Pew Center on the States study, almost half of ex-cons soon end up back in jail for committing crime because it is sometimes their only way to pay their bills. I work as a chaplain at a prison in Connecticut and many convicts, including military veterans, approach and complain to me that they have no future outside of those walls since a lot of them went to prison while they were young, didn’t have education, and worst of all, have a criminal record that will follow them around. I believe that a person who committed a non-violent crime and served a punishment for it should be given a second chance.
Today we remember our fallen angels who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Today we honor our veterans by trying to follow their example. Veterans who stand shoulder to shoulder as brothers and sisters try to look past each other’s differences in regards to race, gender, religion, social class, and sexual orientation. Why, then, do we face so many issues in our country pertaining to those things even though we, too, share the common link of all being Americans?