Another statistic from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is that 95% of incarcerated individuals will release back into the community at some point. According to Allen J. Beck's "The Importance of Successful Reentry to Jail Population Growth" paper there approximately 9 million people released from jail each year.
The question I find myself asking is how many people do we have in our country who have had a criminal conviction? Its not just 6.8 million, the number is much higher than that. Exactly how high, I do not know, but according to the 2018 World Almanac the United States adult population as of 2016 was 249,489,772. It is safe to say that a large portion of our population is a criminal.
In fact, the 2018 World Almanac says that in 2015 there were 3,770,000 gay or lesbians, 1,870,000 bisexuals, and 1,397,150 transgenders (2016) for a total LGBT population of 7,037,150.
Approximately 7 million LGBT folks and approximately 6.8 million active criminals an we haven't factored in the 9 million who release from county jails, or the millions who are no longer monitored.
There is no comparison from LGBT people to criminals I wish to draw other than the population reference, which gives us perspective into the staggering number of incarcerated individuals. I challenge everyone to think about what rehabilitation actually looks like. What in your mind would it take for a person who has committed a crime to be rehabilitated and what would they have to do to prove it?
It is a difficult question for people to answer. Was it difficult for you? I have to ask myself all the time what a rehabilitated me looks like, what do I have to do to prove I am changed? Work? Start a nonprofit? Seriously, what is it?
I am asking because I am one of the 95% of people who are going to leave this place and I know I am a changed person, but how do I reintegrate into a community that has no idea what they expect of me other than "stay away from us and do not commit another crime." Not committing another crime is something I can do, which is more than I can say for most Americans, apparently.
I love my community and I have lots of support, thankfully. But I do not want people to fear. How does one mitigate that? My hope is that the more I write and keep communication lines open the more folks will see me as human. I want to be held accountable, I am okay with scrutiny, but what about human acceptance?
Think about what rehabilitation looks like, what specific things would prove I am rehabilitated and then send them to me or comment, let's air it out.