Westhampton College '09

Do you believe in second chances? For many, forgiveness is an essential facet of life. No one is infallible; this recognition allows us to frequently pardon those who have made mistakes. If Americans hold absolution to be a positive process, why do repeat offenders make up over half of our prison population? With an all-time high of more than one in 100 adults in the U.S. being incarcerated, costing state and federal governments nearly $55 billion a year, perhaps we should shift our focus from reincarnation to rehabilitation.

Boaz and Ruth regards prisoner rehabilitation as a top priority, rebuilding the lives of formerly incarcerated men and women through transitional jobs, education and training programs. Located in the center of Highland Park, one of Richmond's most troubled neighborhoods, the organization also works to empower the community by restoring real-estate, spurring businesses and providing jobs. Volunteering at Boaz and Ruth has changed my perspective about our justice system and about the way in which we view criminals. The people I have met have not been the violent, angry and belligerent people you might expect. They have rather been kind, introspective and utterly repentant for their misdoings. My time spent at Boaz and Ruth has allowed me to view criminals as human beings; imperfect, and fully deserving of a second chance.