Faith-Based Program Only Part of Solution

July 6th, 2011, by

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas regards himself as a compassionate conservative in his state, despite his critics, and with good cause. He wants to stem the high recidivism rate of ex-felons by working with faith-based re-entry programs as a way to not only help former inmates, but shore up a lagging state budget.

From a government standpoint, I think Gov. Brownback’s plan is a great idea. However, I think he should also work with members of his state’s legislature to see to it that ex-felons are put back on a path that includes having questions of felony convictions removed from job applications.

Why should the governor take this approach? I’ll give you three reasons. First, having the assistance of faith-based programs and mentors won’t fully solve the problem. You need the power of government to help change the overall apprehension and stigma of hiring ex-felons.

Secondly, having the question of an applicant’s criminal history on a job application blocks even the most qualified applicants from getting a fair shot at a job they desperately need.

Third, by neglecting to put the full resources of the state behind such a program, the governor not only falls short in making good on his statewide goal, but makes the workers heading these programs appear as if they don’t have the power or skill to make positive changes in people’s lives, when they can and often do.

So, while I’m a fan of prayer, I know prayer alone won’t solve this problem. People in positions of authority and leadership like Gov. Brownback must take things one step further to really provide these opportunities, so that the recidivism rate is lowered. If the governor takes this approach, he’ll not only meet his goal of reducing the high recidivism rate, but actually live up to the true title and definition of how he sees himself: A compassionate conservative.

Should Gov. Brownback work with legislators to ensure the recidivism rate is lowered in the state of Kansas?

Last modified: July 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm