Some of history’s greatest personalities have spent time behind bars; the same can be true today | Social views


Some of the world’s greatest leaders have found themselves behind bars at some point in their lives.

There was Nelson Mandela and the 27 years he spent on Robben Island, 18 of them in a tiny cell with a mattress on the floor and a bucket for the latrine.

Reverend Martin Luther King, speaking at UN Plaza during an anti-Vietnam demonstration in New York, April 15, 1967. (AP Photo)PA

Then there was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, who wrote a very famous letter from a prison in Birmingham. It was one of the many times he was handcuffed and locked up. And those who read the Bible know that the apostle Paul was once among those who were in prison, just like Jesus himself.

History tells us that just because someone went to jail doesn’t make them worthless, dangerous, or irrecoverable. Many former prisoners are capable of becoming great leaders in our communities if we give them the chance.

Green Street Shooting Press Conference

Kevin Dolphin, who works with the non-profit organization Breaking The Chainz, asks a question during a press conference at the Dauphin County Courthouse on Monday, August 8, 2016, regarding a use of lethal force incident by a police officer while responding to a domestic dispute call on Green Street on Monday evening which resulted in the death of a 20-year-old man. Alex Driehaus, PennLive HARHAR

Kevin Dolphin, founder of the Breaking the Chainz Resource Center in Harrisburg, knows there are thousands of people in central Pennsylvania who need a chance to get over a run-in with the law. He brings the “Time Done” movement to Harrisburg to ensure that ex-offenders here receive the support they need to start a new life.

Time Done may be about helping people once behind bars overcome the stigma of incarceration, but it’s a major way to keep people from becoming repeat offenders out of frustration, anger, and desperation.

Protest at Dauphin County Jail

Community activists staged a protest at the Dauphin County Jail to bring attention to unresolved issues at the jail, June 13, 2022. Vicki Vellios Briner | Special for PennLiveVicki Vellios Briner | Special for PennLive

Time Done is a nationwide community of over 80,000 people working to move on with their lives after being arrested or convicted of a crime. It bills itself as the largest community of people with records in the country.

The organization began about five years ago in California, under the banner of the Alliance for Security and Justice, a national 501 (c-3) nonprofit organization. Time Done now has chapters in Detroit, Houston, Ohio and Florida. And there will soon be one in Harrisburg.

Some of history's greatest personalities spent time behind bars

Time Done is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping ex-offenders start new lives. The organization is coming to Harrisburg.

Dolphin is hosting an event to welcome Time Done to Harrisburg from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 10 at the Breaking the Chainz Community Resource Center, 2134 N. 6th St. The event is designed to provide information and resources to help people of our region. who face barriers to employment, housing, and simply starting a new life due to decades-old criminal records.

In addition to hosting organizations that can provide support to ex-offenders, Dolphin says several community leaders and elected officials will speak about the need to reform the country’s criminal justice system so people don’t get out of years of imprisonment anymore. angry and more hardened than when they entered.

House of Blessings provides refuge for ex-offenders

Ida Hunkins speaks inside House of Blessings, which provides refuge for female ex-offenders, in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Hunkins is a tenant who served time in prison. (Cory Morse | Grand Rapids Press

PolitiFact says over 70 million Americans have any criminal record. This number includes anyone arrested for a felony, even if the arrest did not result in a conviction. And thousands of people languishing in prisons across this country could be found not guilty when they finally stand trial. At least half of these people face discrimination in housing, employment and access to financial security.

That’s a lot of people – and a lot of great potential contributions – to just write off. Worse still, it makes a lot of people unhappy, angry and desperate.

Dauphin County Jail Tour

Visit to Dauphin County Jail in May 2015.Marc Pynes | [email protected]

With approximately 80% of Dauphin County inmates returning to jail, Harrisburg needs Time Done. And Kevin Dolphin should be congratulated for bringing a ray of hope to thousands of people in Pennsylvania.

Joyce M. Davis is PennLive’s Awareness and Opinion Editor. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @byjoycedavis.

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