Can't keep holding convictions over people's heads!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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Dear Editor,

It's a pity that Carolyn Warren's story of transformation has come to light only through the machinations of partisan one-upmanship.

Politics aside, Warren's journey from a convict to the managing director of a State agency is an inspiration. Her story has value.

That Warren was able to rise above the drug conviction of 25 years ago is a testament to the power of rehabilitation and a wake-up call for the need to change, in a radical way, how we approach crime and punishment in this country.

If we continue to hold on to the flawed idea that someone who has committed an offence cannot make a contribution to society we are robbing ourselves of some of our richest human resources.

There are many Carolyn Warrens behind bars and in the wider society who have silently done the work needed to transform their lives through education and skills training.

If we, however, continue to hold the convictions of these individuals over their heads by denying them employment and discriminating against them we are only perpetuating the cycle of crime and re-offending.

Carolyn Warren stands as a testament to the power of rehabilitation.

If given the opportunity, inmates and individuals with criminal records can offer a lot. The discrimination against these individuals, however, continues to keep them in a mental prison. Having served their time and acknowledged the error of their ways, ex-convicts should not have to be doubly punished.

There is just a grave sense of a lack of humanity in using a drug conviction of 25 years ago to demonise someone.

Carolyn Warren said it best, “I made a mistake then and I paid for it.”

The enormous strength and courage displayed by Carolyn Warren during what must be the most difficult time in her professional life is a flame that will light the way for many to follow.

A conviction does not define a person, and Carolyn Warren is a living testament of that.

Carla Maria Gullotta

Italian consulate to Jamaica

Executive director, Stand Up For Jamaica

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